Did you know the nearest lake for many of us in Whangārei is Lake Ora? I didn't but now I do, thanks to a game called Getting Lost.
It was Saturday and the kids and I were mulling our next plan of action over lunch (well actually, I was – the kids were quite happy to spend the rest of the day on their devices) when my friend Pip popped up on messenger with a random question.
"So, we're gonna go get a naughty lunch and play Getting Lost in the car. Wanna join via convoy?"
The message was accompanied with a photo of a small compact case with "Getting Lost" inscribed and a tiny compass attached.
"I don't know how to play!" I replied.
"We're at Mcd's. After lunch, we'll send you the card we pull out and you follow the instruction, ie …" - and she sent a photo of a card saying: "Turn right".
"Omg, I really don't know how to play – you guys will so win," I said, thinking it was like the Amazing Race which I've never actually watched.
"No winners, just different places and experiences. You do it till we get the home card. I'll message you in about half an hour – game on!"
"Hopefully there's no 'Climb a mountain' card!" I replied, as we'd just come back from climbing Mt Aubrey.
We finished our lunch and jumped in the car as the first card was sent through.
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"Drive to the nearest park you see and have a swing."
Pulling up to our local skate park, the kids soon spotted their basketball buddies on the courts and slunk down in their seats.
"Wha-at mum?! No way! We're not getting out!"
Well this was going to be fun – hopefully we drew a card soon that took us out of our neighbourhood. I managed to get a quick snap of them on the swing for five seconds before they legged it back to the car. Pip and I exchanged pix and we were on our way.
We drove until it took us around the airport. Then: "Google the word 'lake' and go to the first suggestion that comes up."
"Ah … I think I may need to fill up with gas … So, we'll be seeing you at Kai Iwi?"
"We got Lake Ora," she replied.
My co-driver's Google search had just turned up the same result.
"Oh same … You guys got togs?"
I considered calling back in at home for ours but just as well I didn't … Let's just say Lake Ora hadn't the freshest looking water …
As Pip and her partner and kids were already central, they reached the Kamo destination well ahead of us, sending a photo of the evidence. We were still making our way to Three Mile Bush Rd when she sent the next instruction: "Follow a white car."
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Now this could be fun! But we had to reach the lake first! We passed them, hot on the tail of a white 4WD and much laughter was had before we rolled up to Lake Ora.
Okay, tick, we were keen to turn back and find ourselves a white vehicle …
It wasn't long before a white ute came into sight and, while Pip followed-up that theirs had taken them back through the McDonald's drive-through, ours led us all the way back into town.
Meanwhile, the cards were coming in thick and fast, the kids were fully embracing the game, and I was hoping our white ute was going to take us somewhere equally as fun.
"Head north", "Head in the same direction the wind is blowing", "Take the next left", "Drive to the nearest signposted natural attraction you see".
The ute finally rolled up to Bayleys real estate and the oblivious man hopped out talking a mile a minute on his cell phone.
"Is there one that says 'Pub'?" I asked Pip, feeling a little exhausted from all this getting lost business.
And then: "Stop for a drink."
"Did you cheat the pub one?!" I asked.
"No Mads pulled it out! Haha random."
So, from Bayleys, and heading north and in the same direction as the wind was blowing, and having taken the next left, the closest natural attraction was the Town Basin. The kids and I ordered drinks, as instructed, along with a platter and, before we knew it, we'd filled two hours of random fun.
I'm hoping next time we wind up somewhere in the wops that we haven't yet explored but, for now, discovering we have a Lake Ora will do.