20 April 2015

Gallivanting at Gisborne's great beaches

The drive to Gisborne from Wellington is not for the faint hearted - some 500km and approx 7 hours of driving, more when you take into account any stops you might want to make on the way. Which was another reason I was so nervous of making the journey after my Crohn’s disease had flared up - tummy cramps at home are one thing, tummy cramps on the road and the nasty violent smell they produce and I end up inflicting on my poor family in the car as well as the thought I may need to find a toilet in a hurry are quite another. But in any event, we decided we would try and make the journey.  Armed with a hot water bottle for my tummy, and leaving at 9am on Good Friday we’d decided to head over the Rimutaka Hill and avoid any Easter traffic issues on the main drag out of Wellington. Both the boys (who aren’t known for getting car sick) complained that they weren’t feeling great on the short and windy hop over the hill to the Wairarapa but we said to take deep breaths and look out the window. Lo and behold, Noah opens up the window and sticks his head out - I thought he was just getting fresh air but he was actually puking out the window at 100 km/hr. 

After stopping to check out the carnage - luckily most of it seemed to have missed both him and the car we were on our way again, and a much less eventful trip ensued after that. It takes about 4-4.5 hours to reach the Hawkes Bay, all on pretty good roads, but we knew the next section through to Wairoa would be a lot more windy so were a little nervous how that would go. But the boys feel asleep for a good chunk of that section and we arrived unscathed in Wairoa mid-afternoon. After a ice-cream stop we were on our way again, and hoping to stop  off at the Morere Hot Springs about half an hour further on.

It was more than a little frustrating to come to a complete stop only a couple of kilometres from Morere along with all the other traffic on State Highway 2 because some numpty hadn’t secured their trailer load of feed and it was spread all over the road. After waiting about 20 minutes at a standstill while the road was cleared, we were on our way again. We arrived at Morere at 4pm and had a delicious soak in their Nikau Plunge Pools which are a 7 minute walk up into the native bush through the gorgeous nikau palms. I found I was only able to manage a slow decrepit walk to get there but it was worth it for the lovely warmth of the mineral pool - so much so that I didn’t really want to get out again afterwards.

From there, we drove over the hill and Poverty Bay was suddenly spread out before us, a vast coastal plain. Coming into Gisborne we were surprised at how tropical everything seemed with palm trees dotted right along the main street. We found our accommodation, a very spacious 2-bedroom villa in Inner Kaiti, very close to town, and gobbled takeaways. The boys watched McCaulay Kulkin in Richie Rich while I dozed on the couch, just happy to have made the journey there in one piece!

We were treated to brilliant sunshine on our first full day in Gisborne. However, my illness and general well being meant I had to take it very easy each morning, so there was no rushing out the door to get to an activity - rather a slow and leisurely pottering around that might eventually mean we got out the door near lunchtime. The boys and I got stuck into a game of Phase 10 (from the makers of Uno) whilst Mark went out and got some shopping. Then it was coffees and hot cross buns before we decided to make our way down to Waikanae Beach for a picnic lunch.

The boys set up their cricket set and had a happy couple of hours playing although the wind had definitely gotten up by this point. After walking the promenade and spotting both the monument to Captain Cook and Young Nick we then drove up Kaiti Hill to take in the views of the whole town and local area.

I had some appreciation for the importance of Gisborne in NZ’s history - I knew that Captain Cook had landed here first but it was wonderful to read and take in more of the history - the fact that Young Nick’s Head (the white cliffs clearly visible across the bay from Gisborne) was the first sighting of land made by Nicholas Young in 1769, a young lad on board the Endeavour. Also interesting was that Poverty Bay was so named by Cook after his first landing and communications with the Maoris did not go well resulting in him leaving without being able to trade for any provisions and the name has stuck despite the fertile region being anything but poor. It was fascinating to see how far Cook travelled in his three journeys around the world, and the impact he had on the understanding of the world in those days, sailing through and charting largely unknown areas of the globe. After his first mishap, he also landed at Anaura Bay and Tolaga Bay further north of Gisborne with more success. As well as being the first to circumnavigate NZ, he largely mapped out the whole of the country with relatively minor errors. He returned to NZ on both his subsequent expeditions before being killed in an incident with Hawaiian islanders in 1779. Amazing to think the impact this short 10 years had on world history.

After taking a photo with another state of Cook up on Kaiti Hill we headed out to Wainui Beach, which despite being a surf beach was remarkably less windy and warmer than the main town beach had been. Mark and Noah got good use out of their body boards while Mylo made a new friend and enjoyed running and splashing in the waves for a good hour.

The waves were just right for catching some great waves - I love some of these action shots I got of Noah weaving in and out of the waves.

Gosh it's a lovely beach and we could have spent much longer there, either that or come again if we'd had more time!

It's hard to believe looking back now that it was so lovely and warm when the country then had its first widespread snowfall just two weeks later.

We had such a lovely day out there that I can guarantee it won't be the last time we visit Gisborne's glorious beaches!

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