Thursday, 25 December 2014

Gisborne District, Day One - Rich Food in Poverty Bay

Though it was sunnier than the day before, we still ended up packing away our tent in a sun shower. Having been used to camping in the fields and hills of the coast, we weren't used to the loud birdsong that came with having your tent next to a forest, so we woke up quite early. 

Onepoto Caves walk, Lake Waikaremoana
On our way out of Lake Waikaremoana and back to Wairoa where we would take the turn off for Gisborne, we went on another walking track to the Onepoto caves. (One hour each way, but there is a shorter bush walk back along the road, so it only took us an hour and twenty minutes.)

The path was treacherous, with deep holes to either side of the trail at times, and steep drop offs. I enjoyed shining my torch into the holes to see how far down they went and what was down there. 

I usually just wear jandals on bush walks, but thinking that a caves walk might require a bit more traction, I wore my sports shoes. Yannick gave me the nickname "Grippy Two-Feet". He still wore his jandals. 

You can't tell, but I was right at the edge of a precipice! That green thing that looks like a bush by my foot was actually a tree clinging to the side of the cliff! I am such an intrepid explorer. 

Mahia Peninsula
We took a brief detour along the peninsula and found a wonderful lookout of the bay. There was a bit of a swarm of bees here, seemingly originating from a nearby bin, but they didn't bother us and we ignored them. When we were taking photos, a lady pulled up in her SUV and worriedly told us that there were a lot of bees around. We said they were fine and she looked doubtful but carried on her way. 

We pulled over at the first beach we found, which doesn't seem to have a name, but I will call it Mahia beach. It was so nice that even I went for a swim. 
Leaving that afternoon, we passed out of Hawkes Bay and into the Gisborne District, where there were certainly fewer bees.

Gisborne
Our first stop in Gisborne was the Marina Restaurant, a French run restaurant on (surprise surprise) the marina. Not too many restaurants stood out to me on TripAdvisor, but this one did for its resonably priced set menu - $25 for a choice of a starter and a main or a main and a dessert. The crispy chicken with lemon sauce was a good choice for main. 

For dessert I had the special, which was a deconstructed strawberry and white peach crumble. I was a little intrigued by the fruit, which was not cooked as I had expected in a crumble. Upon eating it, however, I respect their choice as the fruit was so fresh and delicious that it would seem a shame to cook it. 

Taking a walk through the town, we saw another noticeable clocktower sticking up well above the rest of the buildings. Don't you love its pink hues?

Gisborne once laid claim to the fact that it was the first city to see the light of the sun. Now Apia has taken credit, as they have changed time zones to ours but the island is further northeast than Gisborne. Yannick uses the mnemonic "if you have Samoa you will be Apia" (if you have some more you will be happier) to remember what the capital city of Samoa is. 
Gisborne no longer uses the info on promotional material, but the paving stones still remain. Upon approaching the i-site, they also had a large New Zealand on a stained glass window with the point of Gisborne facing the rising sun. Inside, the lady at the counter was very friendly and said that the nearby beach was one of the best around. 

We spent much of the afternoon on the beach (Yannick had a swim of course), and in the evening we went for a wander along the waterfront of Poverty Bay. Originally called Teoneroa, when Captain Cook set foot here he obtained herbs to ward off scurvy in his crew, but was unable to acquire many of the provisions he desired, hence the name. Their arrival also led to skirmishes with local Maori in which six Maori died. 

We saw a statue of Young Nick who first spotted New Zealand off Captain Cook's ship. He had a funny expression on so I thought he could do with a mocking pose from me.

And further along, a Captain Cook statue looking very regal in silhouette as the sun set over Poverty Bay.