Sometimes it can be a struggle to wrangle the kids outdoors during summer.
But one Hamilton mum is making it easier to ditch the devices and connect kids to nature.
After ending up knee-deep in a murky lake with her young son in a buggy, Ceana Priest knew there had to be a better way to find kid-friendly adventures.
“The soggy trail was billed as wheelchair suitable, which was a very ambitious call!” Ceana recalls. “Perhaps at one time but unfortunately not when we visited.”
That wasn’t the first time she had struggled to discover kid-friendly walks after her son Finn – and co-adventurer – was born.
“I couldn’t easily find information to let me know whether a trail was buggy friendly or a maze of steps stairs.”
So the former hut warden embarked on a goal to explore as many Waikato walks, bike paths and playgrounds as possible to share with other outdoorsy families.
This morphed into a sold-out adventure booklet last year. Now, after spending the winter expanding the book to include more than 100 adventures, the latest edition hit the shelves of local bookstores just before Christmas.
There’s enough inside to keep all the troops entertained throughout the year.
The walks have accessibility icons for bikes, buggies, wheelchairs and if the family pooch can join in the fun.
Having grown up at Whakapapa Village with summers spent exploring the mountains, Ceana wanted Finn to have a healthy dose of the outdoors while he was young.
“I think having nature based experiences builds a huge amount of resilience in kids,” she says.
“There’s always going to be bumps and bruises but generally these ‘mishaps’ result in a greater understanding of their own abilities. Often there’s nothing a hug won’t fix!
“Also, nature offers kids the opportunity to display their creativity by making up their own games or getting hands on constructing bush huts.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to live in a country where access to nature play is relatively easy – starting from finding critters in our own backyards.”
Ceana admits she is “wildly inaccurate” at identifying trees so included as many information sheets as she could to help others who are also tree challenged.
“There’s also another benefit to the sheets because sometimes having something to look for can keep kids more engaged outdoors,” she says. “There are also identification sheets for birds, bugs, fish and fungi.”
Ceana partnered with Department of Conservation and the book includes a section dedicated to learning te reo Māori in a natural setting.
The guidebook is available locally at Paper Plus stores and also on the Outdoor Kid website.