@ The Wavehaven
We've been trying to fit in as many activities as possible with Jessa here, so we've been pretty busy for the last several days! Jessa's visit has been much too short, but we've been grateful to have her around even for just 10 days. She flies out tomorrow morning on her long journey home, and we will definitely miss her!
I'll back track a little and summarize our last few days:
Saturday: We finally got a day of rest! After hiking, canoeing, and goat-chasing, we were ready to just hang around the Wavehaven for a day, and spent it all catching up on emails, writing letters, and generally hanging around on the deck relaxing. Matt went for a bit of a surf at sunset, and Jessa and I hung out on the beach in the evening sun.
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
After a dinner of fresh, delicious mussels steamed in a white wine sauce (remarkably easy to cook), we headed into town to see the Festival of Lights that has been going on in Pukekura Park. It was epic! All the trees were underlit, as was the waterfall, and there were big strings of lantern-y lights over all the bodies of water, and it was gorgeous! Throughout the festival, which started before Christmas, there is free entertainment every night, and we went to see a fire dancing troupe that was pretty incredible. My favorite act was a guy with a giant whip that was lit on fire, and shot out huge sparks every time he cracked it!
Sunday: Matt worked at the Y most of the day, so Jessa and I went into town with him and we had a little brunch at a great French Bakery, and then visited the free Brooklands Zoo before Matt went to work.
Bowl of Brooklands Amphitheatre (how cool is the moat?)
Jessa and a Kune Kune pig
Jessa and Matt in front of the meerkats.
Jessa and I spent the day shopping around town for some gifts and souvenirs for her to take home, and met Matt at our favorite kebab shop for lunch. After he got off work, we took Jessa up Paritutu Rock, where the views were epic on this beautifully clear day.
The view south towards Oakura.
In the evening, we treated Jessa to another good Kiwi dinner: Matt barbecued up some venison sausages, some marinated veggies, and some prawns in sweet chilli sauce. It was AMAZING.
With a gorgeous, hot day in front of us, we went down to the beach in Oakura, and put Jessa through an abbreviated surf school, then got her out on Matt's board (the easiest to catch waves on) and she got several good ones on her stomach, and learned how to steer her board! The water felt amazing, I got about a million short standing rides on the whitewash, and we both enjoyed being in the water with just rashguards over our togs. (Matt had gone to the outside and caught some good rides on a board borrowed from Stefan). Jessa and Matt spent the afternoon in town running some errands, and we cooked up some fried Hoki and kumara chips for dinner.
We woke up to humidity, rain, and wind! New Zealand is currently the recipient of a batch of storm cells that have blown over from Australia, that were previously tropical cyclones. Most of their power and effect is gone, but we're currently sitting in 80% humidity and winds around 35 knots. The wind has blown the surf out, so this morning we took Jessa south to see some more of the surf highway, and visited the breaks at Graveyards and Rocky Point. Then Jessa and I went into town to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (free!) where we weren't particularly impressed with the installations and the modern art exhibits, but both adored the photography exhibit that was there. The photographer's name is Taryn Simon, and the exhibit/expose was all photographs of hidden bits of America, with great write-ups about each. They included such things as a room full of unprocessed rape kits, covert military training facilities, the contents of the contraband room at JFK airport, and a cryogenics lab. It was fascinating, and incredibly well done.
The weather cleared up a bit this afternoon, but was incredibly hot and muggy (my sunglasses kept fogging up) so we went down to Ahu Ahu Beach at low tide and Jessa got a couple more waves, and we now have proof that we have gotten Jessa onto a surfboard!
The currents were pretty strong so we all walked down the beach to the point by Weld Road, checking out shells and driftwood and the waves, enjoying the sun and wind. Now it's evening, and the skies have darkened and the rain is back, and we're all inside watching movies and drinking tea. I'd say we've had pretty good luck with the weather for Jessa's visit, with only 24 hours of rain in the whole 10 days! We've had an absolutely great time with her and will be sad to see her go. I think we've given Jessa a pretty good taste of New Zealand, and we've all had an exceedingly good time these last 10 days.