Best of the Doyles’ Visit, Part 1: A Weekend in Gizzy

Our great friends, the Doyles, visited in mid-April. What a trip we had! We crammed it in, while attempting to achieve a level of balance between covering a lot of ground and enjoying the moment. What with travel time and a brief layover on their way home, we had them for 7 full days. Here is a summary of our trip, starting with the first half, a long weekend in Gizzy. (Thank you to Thom and Summer for some of these great shots. The photos are mine, unless I’ve credited them, or unless I’ve failed to credit them.)

They arrived in the early evening on a Thursday. After waiting ALL DAY for their arrival, the kids and I endured the torture of a 20-minute delay and then finally there they were, walking off the plane! We couldn’t believe that we were laying eyes on them, these friends who, up until last September, we’d seen at least 3 times a week, and with whom we  shared a weekly meal.

After we arrived home, the kids wanted to play a game on the front driveway with chalk, and so our celebratory bubbles and nibbles were moved out front.

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Photo credit: Thom Doyle

After dinner and a bath, the kids all piled on Daddy Thom for a story before bed.

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Despite preparing them for the worst regarding the weather, Gizzy made me eat my words. I’m sure for years to come, 2013 will be remembered as the Endless Summer, and I’m so glad that our friends got to see Gizzy wearing its best smile. So on Friday morning, after brunch at one of our favorite cafes, Villaggio, we headed 10 minutes from our house to North Makorori beach, my favorite of the handful of beach spots in Gizzy.

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Photo Credit: Thom Doyle

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Photo Credit: Summer Doyle

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After a couple hours of playing on the beach, we drove further on up the hill to take in the view from the Makorori Beach lookout. Here it is looking up the hill, towards Tologa Bay.

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Here is the view of Poverty Bay. You can even make out Mahia Peninsula, the land mass just left of middle on the horizon.

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We posed for some photos at the lookout.

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On Saturday, after breakfast, we walked down the foot bridge and fed the ducks and fish in the river. Here we are coming back up.

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Thora and River play tag in the front yard.

Then it was off for an hour or so at the Botanic Gardens.

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Photo Credit: The Doyles

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Thom and I then took the kids to the Farmer’s Market down the street from us and then we all had lunch in town. After that, we made a quick stop at Waikanae Beach in town…

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… before heading off on our first adventure: feeding the Stingrays with Dive Tatapouri in Tatapouri Bay, just over the hill from Makorori Beach.

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Here we are kitted out in the wading boots. Auric and Lila decided that they wanted to enjoy the view from the banana boat raft. We were okay with that decision.

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We got a brief tutorial and then we all got on the banana boat and our guide pulled us through the shallow water, past the coral reef. Then we all stood in a line, tightly squeezed together, creating a wall with our bodies. We didn’t want the rays to swim between our legs. If they were allowed to swim in between us and all around us, we might accidentally step on one or one of us might get stung accidentally. Blocking them with our wall of bodies and large sticks kept us all in our respective places and provided some order and calm.

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Summer, Thom, Lila, and The Stick

Before long, we were surrounded by the rays and the massive and aptly named Kingfish. These were 2-3 ft. long aggressive fish that wanted the food that we were feeding the rays. They were fast (hence, no photos of them) and they created quite a stir in the water as they thrashed about, darting for the food. Our guide kept them away by tossing them food or by discouraging them away with his stick. We were then able to pet the rays as they glided in front of us.

05(At this point, my pictures get less great, since I was nervous about dropping my camera in the water!)

And for the bold, you could feed them by putting food in the palm of your hand and holding your hand flat, like a plate. Their mouths are a few inches back on their underside and so you need to stick your hand fully underneath them. And that’s when you feel the soggy suction of their mouths. It was weird, slimy fun!

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River was great at petting and feeding the stingrays.

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Photo Credit: The Doyles

The wind was strong and we were starting to get a little wet and cold. The waders were great, but at times the kingfish would splash or a wave would roll in and soak us a bit. And so we had our fill and rode the banana boat back to shore. On the way home, we drove them up Kaiti Hill and took in the view of Gisborne and Poverty Bay.

11Here’s Thom’s great panoramic shot. (Click it on it to get a better look.)

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The Crew

That night, I made a big lasagna dinner, Thom made a massive and delicious salad, we invited another family over, and we had a nice big dinner. Fun!

On Sunday, our last full day in Gizzy, we sunblocked up and headed to Midway Beach for an hour or so.

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Sunblocking was quite an affair.

With a warm heart, I watched the kids play as if no time had passed.

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After a picnic lunch we headed to Morere Hot Springs, a small hot springs set in the native forest down the coast about 45 kms south of Gizzy.

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Photo Credit: Summer Doyle

To start, we took the short walk up to the pools at the top and switched in and out of the icy, medium, and super hot pools. After a half hour or so of that, we did the slightly longer than expected hike that looped us back down to the main pools through a bush walk. Once down there, we alternated soaking in the big hot pool and the icy lap pool.

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08That night we got a sitter for the kids and the grown-ups got to dine out. Then it was back home and packing up for our North Island Tiki Tour that would start bright and early the next morning. Stay tuned for the next post which shows the highlights from our four days and three destinations around the North Island.

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