It is an incredibly lucky coincidence that Matt’s mom and stepdad happen to own a house on the North Island of New Zealand where they spend a few weeks every year during the holidays and that it is only about a 3 hour flight from us in Sydney. Rather than make the long trek back to the U.S. just a few months after we had already gone back for a visit, we decided instead to reunite with family at Jackie and Jamie’s beach house in Wainui.
Matt and I had spent Christmas at the beach house in Wainui about 12 years ago, but it was so long ago we really had just vague memories of the place. From the minute we touched down at the tiny Gisborne airport and walked out on to the tarmac we were in love with the place. Everything just slowed down and felt easy. The town is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills dotted with sheep and cows (very much to Theo’s delight) and farms and vineyards that run right up to wide, empty windswept beaches.
Wainui Beach is a small community about 10 minutes north of Gisborne. It is really just a collection of houses along the bay with a small general store and an elementary school. Gisborne is a bit more happening than it was when we were there the first time, but is still a pretty sleepy town. Pac’N’Save, the grocery store, is the center of the main street, and there are some nice restaurants along the riverfront, some cute cafes, and lots of vineyards just outside of town.
Our days mostly consisted of lots of relaxing and frequent trips back and forth to the beach. We did some mini adventures and day trips as well.
Our favorite things from our vacation, in no specific order, included the following:
- Playing in the waves and teaching Theo to ride a boogie board.
- Eating lots of freshly caught lobster.
- Surfing, surfing and more surfing…and then going in the jacuzzi right after.
- Kayaking up the Waimata River in town and joining some locals on their water slide into the river.
- Day trip up the coast to Tolaga Bay (everyone) and jumping off the pier (Matt only).
- Wine tasting (and amazing cheese boards) around Gisborne.
- Hiking Mt. Makorori for beautiful views of Wainui Bay.
- Watching the sunrise on New Years Day in the easternmost city of the world.
- Fireworks show in Gisborne on New Years.
- Lots of family time, and Theo getting spoiled by his grandparents.