Week 5: Sand flies and multiple cries

Week 5 of our trip and it really feels like we're travelling now, like this is our life for a while, not just a holiday. Our last week has included the latter part of Abel Tasman, which I wrote about last time. From there we went to Pohara, where we stayed on a stunning campsite next to a wide open white beach, the stuff of aspirational holiday commercials. Pohara enabled us to be near Takaka, a really sweet little town that we visited primarily so I could do some yoga. As such it has a ageing hippy feel, tie dye and bare feet abound. We drove from there west to Punakaiki, where we stayed on our favourite campsite yet. Another stunning, but more wild beach, filled with driftwood and surrounded by cliffs, this side of the coast has a very different feel to it, wild and prehistoric.

With that wild feeling came the wild weather. Storms and terrible predictions of weather to come made us change our plans, and a stay in Fox Glacier turned into a brief lunchtime visit, with a stay over in Haast in order to reach Wanaka, near Queenstown as quickly as possible, and benefit from their preferable weather forecast.

It's been a week of emotional highs and lows. We've been driving through some of the most beautiful countryside we've ever seen. Soaring mountains, bubbling rivers cutting through them, with moody clouds overhead and lush rainforest alongside the winding road. Driving is often turning into some of our favourite days (as long as Otis is asleep and happy), enabling us to really soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful country, and chat away about our trip.

The lows are centred far more on our considerations of how fair our trip is on our son, and often irrational parental guilt. We regularly curtail our plans to ensure his welfare is our first consideration. Walks are cut short, car journeys are planned meticulously around naps and extra breaks taken whenever remotely required. Time each day is spent ensuring he gets time to stretch out his little body and have solid play time.

All of this doesn't prevent you having moments of doubt about how travelling affects him. This came to a head this week, when we camped in huge storms. Both Ben and I have always slept well in tents when rain is battering down the canvas, but with our departure imminent the next morning, we lay sleepless, working out the best way to co-ordinate getting our tent down with the little man in tow. Our normal system of putting him on a mat with toys while we do the parts that absolutely require two people clearly wasn't going to work with gale force winds and horrendous rain.

Otis was fairly sleepless too, but he has been for weeks now, with multiple teeth arriving at once (to be fair to the little guy he's now on tooth number six, with several more on the way and he's only 8 months old). The noisy weather doesn't help, but ultimately most of it's teething, something that would be (and has in the past) woken him just as regularly at home.

We managed to get the tent packed down and away with the help of some kind neighbours who took him for the last 10 minutes, but when I went to get him he was in a terrible state (apparently surprised by the guy coming out of the caravan bathroom) that I was in tears as well as we put him in the car to start our journey, feeling terrible that he was in the back unable to be comforted. Add the parental guilt of the fact that sand-flies seem determined to get him, and the cold nights that challenge our layering skills, and yesterday it all seemed a bit much.

We made the decision to stay overnight in a B&B to take a break from the canvas. Excitement at comfortable beds, hot showers and a toilet that you didn't have to stumble to in the middle of the night affected us all, even Otis seemed to have a happy break from the teething. We anticipated a better nights sleep and felt relieved at not having to put our tent up in horrendous weather.

And yet the sleep was broken again. Calm conversations in the light of day always reach the same conclusions. He's had good nights sleep here and he's had bad ones. The variable that affects it all is those bloody teeth, not spending nights under canvas. Not being away from home, and most importantly, not our capabilities as parents. He's spending more time with both of us than he ever would at home, he's obviously excited at the new sights he sees daily, and he's progressing nicely with walking and eating. Ultimately, he's happy, and the things that affect that, would affect him just as much at home as they would here.

Parent guilt, you can sod off, we're doing ok.