A Fabulous East Coast Festive Season

It’s vastly different to the UK. The festive season here in New Zealand falls in the middle of summer. Is it better or worse? Well, that all depends on your experiences and perspective. We’re all different. I know many people prefer the cold and dark, with the contrasting bright lights. Me, I’m happy to have long warm days thank you!

Barry’s Super Summer Shots

Have a look at Barry’s images below, from our adventures in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. What would you prefer?

A Bay Cruise On ‘The Big Waka’

Three days before Christmas, I was privileged to be on board the Waka Hourua ‘Tairāwhiti’ ( a Māori replica double hull canoe) for a cruise around Poverty Bay. Judi and Jasper had booked the experience and asked if we wanted to join them. I jumped at the chance. Barry wasn’t so keen, as he gets terribly sea-sick. Who’d have thought aye? He chooses to live on a boat. It’s VERY different living on a narrowboat on the calm canals.

Staying on land meant he was able to take lots of amazing photos of us as a group, on the boat, and in the bay:

Meanwhile, I took a few shots of MY view of the waka—what an incredible experience. We learnt heaps about the history of Poverty Bay – Turanganui a Kiwa. Including the fact that one of the Maori killed by Captain Cook’s men, was an accomplished gardener. So it wasn’t only the atrocity of the deaths but also the subsequent effects on the local population that were devastating. Such personalised stories are rarely told.

We’d celebrated the summer solstice on 21st December. On 22nd, it was our eleventh wedding anniversary. That date also marked fifteen years since Kim and I checked out Barry as he took our portraits at Wainui Beach. The reason we chose it for our New Zealand wedding.

Christmas Eve in Gizzy

On the east coast of the North Island, the days are long and mostly sultry. Relaxed. Simple. Well, for us it felt like that! There’s still a fair number of folks around our age, or older, who can’t resist the lure of full-time work to sustain their lavish (in comparison to us) lifestyles—each to their own.

Christmas Eve was splendid. We enjoyed a gathering of midwives, ex-midwives and their partners at Judi and Jaspers in Wainui. We all contributed to cooking and filling tacos on their back deck, then sat and drank, ate and chatted amiably. All the women and one man casually strolled two minutes along their road to walk around Tuahine Point. What utter bliss. Barry chose to stay with Andy and Jasper, talking bloke stuff. Once we all returned, we had a fun game of Sequence with nine players in three teams.

It was such a stark contrast to the three consecutive Xmas Eves from 2016 to 2019 where we were getting Calendar Club stores ready for the Boxing Day sale late into the night. It makes me shudder now to recall those dark, cold, busy days. Last year we were close enough to jump on a bus to Lisa and Rob’s house. Admittedly I missed the boys this year!

Christmas Day in Gizzy

We slept overnight in NZAreandare on Judy and Jasper’s drive. Christmas Day continued to be laid back and lovely, including another round of Sequence. Just the four of us, in their cosy back garden full of home-grown produce.

Late morning we drove the twenty minutes back into town for a pancake brunch with Tom and Miriam. It’s a bit of a Christmas tradition for the Teutenbergs. Pancakes cooked outside, eaten with bacon, bananas and maple syrup. Delicious.

That evening we drove a short way with them to a fun gathering up the hill, at an amazing home and garden. We learnt yet another new game – though I can’t remember what it was called. Something to do with codebreaking. Again we slept on the drive. It’s so cool taking your home with you!

We left on Boxing Day for yet another social gathering at Greg and Toni’s. It’s such a different experience to a UK Christmas. We loved every sunny minute.

Tolaga Bay Beach Races

We’d planned to get to an event that’s been happening for decades north of Tolaga Bay. Kaiaua (Tolaga) Bay Beach Races. Neither Barry nor me had been previously. More lovely friends have a plot of land (called a ‘section’ here) near the wharf, and we have their permission to stay there. So we did. The night before and after.

The beach races were great fun, a short drive from Tolaga. Sadly though by this time the weather had turned to custard, so everyone was in their winter gear – gum boots (aka Wellingtons!), jumpers, long pants (trousers!), and raincoats. Betting was by $1 equalisator on all races, with doubles on race four and six. So you buy as many $1 tickets as you choose, with absolutely no idea which horse you’re backing. Each ticket has a letter only. Even the people selling tickets didn’t know as they sold them face down. It was quite fascinating and lots of fun. Well, mostly.

Horrendously, two horses had to be euthanised during the event.

A grey cloud hung over the Tolaga Bay Beach Picnic Races, with two horses put down after suffering injuries yesterday. “We’ve never had any incidents over the past 20 years, but it is an accident that can happen at any event,” said committee spokeswoman Nicki Jefferd.

It has really affected us because we’re all horse people, we love our horses.”


We left after the second one fell, at the start of race 6 of 7. I suspect many others did too. It was so sad. I’d naively believed that because there were no jumps it would be fine. I think it was the first and last time for me.

A Magnificent New Year

On December 31st 2019, Barry and I walked to The Letters Inn in Tattenhall. We walked back along the road with no pavement, before midnight, in the cold and dark. We were both in bed before 12.

31st December 2020 was a stark and much welcomed contrast. Our fabulous friends Tracey and Rod have a family ‘bach’ at Anaura Bay, where we spent our honeymoon. They invited us to come and park up on their land and celebrate the beginning of 2021 with them and their families. It’s hard to describe how stunning this place is. One of my most favourite in the whole world.

Barry captured the essence of our stay perfectly:

Rod had previously built an outdoor pizza oven in the garden, which was well-used during the few days we stayed.

Barry and Rod even continued cooking on 2nd January – despite a torrential downpour! You see it’s not ALWAYS sunny …

Thank you so much dear friends.

Early on the 3rd of January, I hauled myself out of bed and watched the sun rising on the first land in the world to greet the new day. As always, it took my breath away. We’re so very fortunate to be here and feel grateful every day.

A Great Start To 2021

Knowing we’d be leaving Gizzy on 15th January, we made the most of the first two week of the year. We visited friends and played more games. Stayed again with Tom and Miriam. Walked at Waikanae. Went to the Blues Night at The Poverty Bay Club. A gallery opening at Paul Nache. As well as catching up on work for me slotted in between all the frivolity.

One of the days of work for me was spent at Kaiti Beach. This has become one of our most favourite free camp spots. We knew we had just one more of the three nights in 30 days left. So we used it! And finally checked out the splendid structures that were built to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing stars Kaiti Beach a couple of years ago.

Heading South

You’ll see from our location on the sidebar, that we’re en route to Wellington now. On the way we’ve stayed in Cambridge with friends, and followed a dream of mine to stay at The Chateau Tongariro. This wasn’t quite what I’d planned … More in the next post.

2 thoughts on “A Fabulous East Coast Festive Season

  1. It’s been grey skies here for months, and when I see all that lovely blue sky, I think to myself, ‘what a wonderful world’ that includes Barry’s glorious photos of your adventures! 😀

    • Oh that’s awesome, so pleased that Barry’s photos have helped to lift your spirits. Kia kaha – keep strong. Blue skies will return to you 😉

To ensure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops, we use comment moderation. If you aren’t a Google member, you CAN still comment anonymously. We'd love it if you gave your name, so we can reply to a person personally :-)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.