Horsing around the East Cape
01.02.2014 27 °C
Our next stop was Gisborne where we woke up in the morning ready to depart Mahia in a flood of water around the tents. Luckily not enough to have leaked into the tents though we packed up pretty sharpish during a lul in the rain somewhere around 8am. It basically rained for most of the day which matched our sprits which were a bit damp that day too. We decided to take a massive cheat and booked into a motel for two nights to dry everything off clean up and not sleep on the floor. After all we are adults and we can do whatever we want! Gizzy buzzed past in a bit of a haze which felt like the middle ground before the next leg which was to be more rural, our rainy day becoming occupied with a cinema trip. Thankfully the next day some glorious sunshine back again we took in Wainui beach for the afternoon and trawled a few estate agents to search for rentals for when I move there in Feb. Determined to check out Gizzys saturday nightlife we started off in a pop up Mexican restaurant and the food was delicious for dinner, walked past a few potential night spots which were closed for a function or empty but then moved onto what can only be likened to TGI Fridays for beer and pool...hmmmm not quite 'buzzing'! Several beers later we took the walk to Gizzys only nightclub and the anticipation we had for a busy Saturday night party was quickly squashed when we were the only 3 people there bar two dodgy blokes in the corner. A few Peter Andre singles, a couple of bad attempts at a G&T in a plastic glass and one wobbler from a local 'inebriated' customer we left at a savoury 1am not before being treated by another inebriated local performing a Haka to oncoming traffic on our walk home...interesting!
Next stop Tolaga Bay where we were back to camping and fully stocked up with supplies. This was a nice area, family orientated and quite small, I didn't really like the beach as much as the sand was a bit brown (oh the absolute perils of travel!) Feeling a bit non active over the last few days we took a giant hike and completed the Cooks Cove Walkway which is where Captain Cook docked his boat in 1769 and was welcomed by Moari tribes unlike in other areas of NZ the local iwi (tribe) were said to have been happy to welcome the ship. The pier in Tolaga bay which has recently been renovated also pays homage to the Moari tribes that belong here and tells the story Hinematioro and Te Whakatatare O-Te-rangi.
We only stayed here one night with a rough outline of timing of each place we wanted to get to.
Tokamaru was next which I loved. We didn't stay overnight unfortunately but we spent the day. Starting off with cranking up the stove on the near empty beach to make a caffeteire of coffee and read the Sunday papers...classy! We stayed here all day and worked on our tans and the water was the best so far. I really want to come back to this little town and as its a stones throw from Gizzy I think I will make a weekend of it. There's not much there in terms of specific facilities but with the spectacular beach as its main attraction, some heritage, a pub and a shop that's always enough of a start for me!
After a beautiful day at the beach we did a long drive up to Tiki Tiki. Over the last few days we had been toying with the idea of doing another big mountain climb of Ruatoria however following much discussions and some advice and research from Chris we decided we'll work up to this one as it was probably a bit too tricky so watch this space.
Arriving in Tiki Tiki which having the same name as the Maori aggressive figures we were quite excited about getting to, but unless we missed the town there isn't anything there except for many horses, some houses and three kids on bikes! We decided to look for some horse trekking that we had read about and happened upon an old backpackers which advertised horse treks. Chris obiendiently following the sign not to let the dog in that was happily nuzzling our legs jumped over the fence and went into what looked like the entrance only to be greeted by the biggest man we've ever seen who said the backpackers had closed down 2 years ago. He kindly pointed us in two different directions of where to find the horse guy. I feel I need to set the scene here a bit more we were in the absolute middle of nowhere here, no phone reception, a handful of people, no tarmac and so much wilderness I was half expecting to see someone come out chewing corn wearing blue dungarees and growling at us! We carried on dutifully following the instructions taking us up a dirt trak which was not made for Tina to drive on and were quickly surrounded by several cows and a large family of pigs! Thinking that we might not be doing the right thing here driving around on Maori land we were about to turn back when a man pulled up behind us in a 4x4. Slightly nervous he might give out to us for being on his land we were relieved when he pulled the window down and said "Are you lost?" Luckily he was a lovely older maori guy called Reg and said he offered horse treks which he could do that evening. Apparently not having accommodation yet also wasn't a problem with the conversation taking the effect of "if you've got tents then I've got a front lawn for you to camp on, follow me"......love the kiwis!! We accepted and got about following him down more Tina unfriendly roads before putting the tents up in his garden full of happiness that we had stumbled on this funny adventure!
We met the horses and had a cuppa before getting saddled up heading out before sun set. Michelle had the biggest horse going much to mine and Chris's delight that we hadn't been offered it. I was nervous as I think I was 5 the last time I went on a horse and after Reg telling me to relax a few times and one mild panic that I couldn't get Mona Lisa the horse to turn round I finally figured it all out and started to enjoy it. What followed in the next two hours was the most amazing trip that makes you feel lucky to be alive. We trekked down the beach on our horses and over mountains, through rivers, steep climbs, bee huts and mountain goats all while on our horses. It was breathtaking and I think we must have said "I can't believe we are getting to do this" so many times. Michelle's giant horse was not as obedient as the rest and had her own plan of where she wanted to walk, much to our amusement afterwards but not so much to Michelle's at the time! Arriving back in the dark Chris threw together a delicious veg green curry on our little stove washed down with some cups of wine we were ready to sleep exhausted from all the adventure and fresh air. What an absolute perfect day!!
Next on we carried on to the edge of the world, which was in fact the most East point of New Zealand the first place in the world to see the sun and the last point before the time zone reverts back to the previous day. There is a lighthouse here and after another 25km of Tina unfriendly roads and several more wishes from me for a truck we climbed to the top of the cliff to get to the lighthouse. Incredible views and outstanding scenery again dotted with a few Maori farming family houses as we drove back round.
We took in a Manauka Bee farm which thanks to Reg the horse mans recent lessons about Bee Keeping and Manuka our knowledge was already fresh before carrying on to spend a night in Te Kaha. Cards, beers, Mexican camp rice dinner made by me and a beach walk this part was just a lay over really before we carried on to meet up with Brena in Ohope with a pit stop in Opotiki which was actually quite a nice built up town.
For the last leg of the journey we joined Bren and some of her lovely family for 2 nights in Ohope at a Top 10 campsite with some surfing, much better card games and one fancy dinner with long talked about sticky toffee pudding to round off our trip before heading back to Auckland. Ohope is lovely and I really would like to go back when I'm an accomplished surfer!! I can't tell you how much I loved the last 3 weeks. Chris and Michelle are excellent travel partners, I never felt like a third wheel travelling with a couple and we all laughed our heads off a lot! Could not have wished for a better time and I loved the rural travel with rough plans of where we wanted to go, map plan chats and so much adventure.
One more long drive and we were back in Auckland for lunch, carrying on the living by the seat of your pants method I had 7 hours to wash all my stuff, unpack, re-pack, get some last minute shopping and do a few internet tasks before I had to get to Auckland airport to fly to Ho Chi Min City for 3 weeks in Vietnam with my friends from home Kate and Sam....with no specific plans, a tiny backpack and a whole county to explore I pretty much skipped down the road with excitement. Asia here I come ............to be continued!