Sunday, February 22, 2015

Off to the East Cape

I had never been to Gisborne or the East Cape, and Andrew had only spent a very limited amount of time there.  It was February, supposedly mid-summer and the area was known for it’s good weather.  The Jackson’s, at the moment, are known for bringing rain and cold where-ever they go this summer.  But we headed off, bravely ignoring our recent travel history.

Gisborne was our first stop and we pitched our tent at the Waikanae Beach Holiday Park.  The holiday park is the area in the center of the photograph below, on the point, surrounded by large trees.

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The camping ground was right on the beach and a short walk to town, so it’s location and facilities were great.  On the other hand the weather was less than ideal – how surprising.  Yet again, intrepid Andrew could only put his toes in the sea and had to wear a puffer vest.

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We liked Gisborne, it had a good feeling about it and there were plenty of good cafes and restaurants.  We had very good coffee at Muir’s Bookshop and great food and coffee at the Gisborne Deli. So good, that we made a deliberate detour on the way home to visit the deli and attached butchery for a rather large parcel of lamb to go back to Wellington.

We spent 40 minutes at the historic cemetery dressed in raincoats with rain dripping down our necks looking for the grave site of my Great-great-grandfather who was a baker in Gisborne back in the 1870’s. According to newspaper reports his bakeries kept burning down and he was declared bankrupt a few times.  This may be why eventually we found the grave plot – unmarked – no one could afford to put a stone up.

A one point the the sun did shine (briefly) and we spent some time sitting on the deck of the Gisborne wine center trying a range of local wines.  So good, that a few bottles were purchased to bring back to Wellington including some Albarino, a white variety we were unfamiliar with which is being grown successfully in the region.

There were no shortage of logging trucks on the road to Gisborne and the pile of logs at the Port was therefore no surprise

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Our summer 2015 camping regime can be summed up in the picture below.  The blue tent in the background and all the components we eat & drink.  Our evening meals are Backcountry Freeze Dried meals – very tasty & super easy.  Just boil water, pour it into the bag, wait 10 minutes, put onto plates and eat.  Easy, surprisingly tasty, $12 a pack and next to no clean-up. Insulated vests and woolen jumpers are our constant "summer" companions this year.

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Then it was off around the Coast Road to Opotiki – which we did as a longish day’s drive with lots of stops along the way.

Tolaga Bay wharf was a good stop.  There, we walked the full 660 meters length out on the wharf which had been restored following a huge fund-raising effort by a tiny community.

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We went out to the East Cape lighthouse, the most easterly point of NZ, and visited a few churches.

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And eventually we got to Opotiki.  Here we stayed at the Island View holiday park – which looked out at White Island, out on the horizon.  On our last day there was some evidence of volcanic activity, but for the rest of the time you wouldn't know it was an active volcano.

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Opotiki, was simple and laid back.  There was one good coffee place in town, where Andrew managed to meet fellow Wadestown residents on holiday.

While wandering around town we went to the Horse and Pony show at the domain.  There were plenty of kids on horses and it was notable that there were almost no horse floats – pretty much everyone had ridden to the event – some of them arriving on the main street.

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The weather was better, but not super-summer.  Andrew braved the cool sea each day for a swim. In spite of this, we very much enjoyed the area and would gladly go back.

One evening while walking down the beach I realized I had dropped something and needed to walk back and retrieve it.  Andrew declined to accompany me – mainly due to the fact the return journey involved walking into a strong, cold breeze, so I left him siting on the sand.  I returned to find him curled on the sand, sheltering from the wind behind a piece of driftwood.  He looked up and told me – “the sand is really warm!”

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