Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Bay of Plenty - Gorgeous Gorges and Death-Defying Paragliding

The next morning, we ate pancakes at Verve Cafe and left Poverty Bay to get to the Bay of Plenty (it does sound like a bit of an improvement). 

Waioeka Gorge
This gorge spans much of the distance between Gisborne and Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty. A river wends its way alongside the road, and tall hills covered in what looks like native bush rise up on each side. 

It was a bit rainy and misty, and after a brief look and a stretch of my legs, I retreated back to Albi the car.

Whakatane
Having never heard much good about Whakatane, I unfairly assumed that it would be a typical town in the middle of nowhere that's got a main road filled with chain stores and not much else. But we found that it was actually rather pretty, and there was a French cafe called L'Epicerie where we got tarts to take away for later (it was too early for lunch, but the open faced sandwiches looked amazing).

The i-site overlooked a marina and it was nice to look at the slowly rocking boats for a moment.

There I am at the waters edge, being careful not to drops our tarts into the sea. 

And here's what they looked like! (This was much later, after a long walk up a mountain which I'm about to describe so stay tuned.) Don't you love our festive paper plates? 

Tauranga
By the time we got to Tauranga, we were hungry for lunch. Delissi restaurant was highly recommended on TripAdvisor so away we went. The food was tasty as promised, and the cider cold, which was perfect on such a hot day. 

Being in Tauranga, we had to walk up Mount Maunganui, which is affectionately called "the Mount" by locals. 
Upon beginning the ascent, we got a good view of the beach, which was a lot more crowded than we were used to. There did seem to be some event going on, and I think it was a sausage sizzle. Nothing draws a crowd quite like a sausage sizzle. $2 for a sausage on white bread, with tomato sauce? Yes please. Who could turn that down?

Here is a particularly impressive pohutukawa, with its flowers out in full force. You can see why they call it the New Zealand Christmas tree. 

On one particularly hot stretch of pathway, I saw this tui land and made Yannick take a photo. We were trying to be quiet to not scare it away. Look it his little white puff! I think he was showing off his shiny feathers to us. 

It was a challenging climb to the top, but we made it. I was getting very hot and tired, but I saw elderly people and children walking past us going down so I knew that if they could do it, I could. And once we arrived up there, we saw this crazy paraglider flying up high and then whooshing down really close to the cliff face and doing flips in the air. It was mesmerising, and he was definitely putting on a show for the tourists (me included). 
Walking down was easier, but still hot. Back at the beachfront, we got ice cold drinks to revive ourselves, and at the car we dug into those French tarts from Whakatane. It was a good day.