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Day 11 – travelling south to Gisborne

October 26, 2012

We woke to a beautiful day blue skies and sun shining. We were planning to drive around 320km today from our base for the last 3 days, Rotorua to Gisborne which is on the edge of the East Cape. Our planned route took us first along the edge of Lake Rotorua before turning eastwards to Whakatane then Ohope Beach. Once again we were driving through stunning landscapes, first alongside lakes then up amongst the hills. The glorious weather jusy made this more special as we drove along. We reached Ohope Beach which is in the Bay of Plenty late morning so we pulled up alongside the beach and took ourselves off to explore the area. There is an amazing array of colourful plants/flowers growing among the dunes. Once on the beach I decided it was time to test the sea water – what a surprise it was not freezing cold. The beach itself was virtually empty of people and it was very tempting to stay there much longer. As we looked out over the bay our eyes were drawn to the horizon where we could see smoke over White Island which is NZ’s most active volcano. Apparently the landscape is likened to that of the moon or Mars and it rated as one the country’s best attractions.

So after this short but welcome stop we journeyed on from Ohope Beach towards Gisborne. We had a spectacular drive through the Wairata Gorge – it was around 70km from start to finish. One of things we have noticed on many of the routes we have followed is how quiet the roads are and this one no more so – I estimate we could have not have seen more the 300 vehicles the whole length of that drive.

We stopped off to have lunch at a place called Ruanga Bridge. Even though it is close to the road is was so peaceful and tranquil with only the songs of birds infiltrating the air – a real oasis for us to enjoy our lunch. We ate some smoked fish that we had bought just outside of Opotki. Blue Gurnard is a deep water fish and very ‘fleshy’ it tasted superb. One of the things I’m really enjoying about this holiday is being able to taste so many different kinds of fish and seafood. As we continued our journey and out of the gorge we travelled through vast areas of fruit growing and vinery’s. It was tempting to stop at some of the vineyards but we are leaving that for another day.

We arrived in Gisborne mid afternoon.  Gisborne is the birthplace of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa! It is also known for being the first place in NZ that Capt Cook sighted and set foot on though it didn’t have a happy outcome and they quickly moved on after some of his crew shot 6 maori men who were performing their traditional challenge to these strange looking people!

The site we are on is well positioned being at the shore edge so we have a fantastic view across the bay. Apparently Gisborne is the world’s first city to see the dawn of each new day – lets hope tomorrows weather is as good as today’s. This is the view from our camper-van – not bad eh!!!

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