For the last few days I’ve been travelling around the eastern part of the north island – lesser travelled by the backpacker, and as a result, much quieter and more chilled out.
The first day was from Rotorua to Gisborne. When we headed towards Whakatane (pronounced faka-tar-ney, ‘wh’ is ‘f’ in Maori), I got a little worried. Consult your map – Whakatane is in the opposite direction! It soon transpired though that in order to be on the main road to Gisborne, you do in fact need to go this way.
I have been to Whakatane before. In the dim and distant past on my first trip to New Zealand, I stayed for a few days in Whakatane with friends of my grandparents (hello Grandma *waves* – I know you’re reading this). This time we didn’t stay long in Whakatane, just long enough to stock up at the supermarket. We then headed along the coast to Opotiki before heading south towards Gisborne. Some beautiful coastline on the northern coast:
I stayed in Gisborne for 3 nights – essentially 2 days as it was the evening by the time we arrived. This area is famous for being where Captain Cook first sighted land and came ashore. His crew promptly shot and killed several Maori who were performing their traditional welcome – killing the indigenous population seems to be something of a calling card… This memorial marks the area where Cook came ashore:
Gisborne is quite a cute little town with some great beaches and lots of wine. Thought it would be rude not to give both of these a go:
Bit of a palaver trying to catch the bus out of Gisborne. In New Zealand I’m largely travelling on a ‘hop on – hop off’ backpacker bus. You can either do the circuit just spending 1 night in each place, or you can ‘hop off’ and spend a few days in each place. I’ve booked everything in to hop off and then hop back on the bus so that I know I can get back to Auckland in time for my flight out in May, and so I was booked back on a bus out of Gisborne on Monday morning. I had 2 different pick up times given to me – 10.30am and 11am – only slightly confusing. When the bus hadn’t appeared at 11.15am I was a little worried. After ringing the office I was told they would be along just after 12 – basically if I hadn’t have rung I’d have been left behind 😳
Once I got picked up we headed north up the coast from Gisborne, and stopped at Tolaga Bay. Despite having glorious weather in Gisborne, the rain arrived in force today and stayed with us for the rest of the trip around the east.
Tolaga Bay has a very long wharf, which we walked along in the rain.
After this we headed to the overnight stop at Tokomaru Bay, another gorgeous bay, even in the rain.
The following day we carried on our journey round the coast, stopping off at a church which had a nice mixture of Maori and Christian themes
We then headed to East Cape and to the most easterly lighthouse in New Zealand. After climbing 785 steps up to it, this was the view:
We stopped in a cute bay for lunch before heading to Maraehako Bay for the night. The hostel was really quirky, nestled into the bay:
Some of the interior was a little dated, but the bed was the comfiest one yet.
This morning after the obligatory group photo we headed back to Rotorua, where the weather has cheered up. I’d forgotten about the smell though…
Tomorrow I’m off to Napier for a couple of days before coming back to Rotorua once again.