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Day 12 – Gisborne to Napier

October 27, 2012

Another fantastic day of blue skies and sun. We woke to a cloudless sky and had breakfast alfresco looking out over the beautiful bay at Gisborne. Our journey today would be a little over 200k which would allow us time to stop at a couple of places on our way to Napier. However, it took us longer than planned as we made a number unscheduled stops to take photographs of stunning views. We travelled through some tight passes – the picture opposite is an example of what we have driving through on our journey. You might just be able to see the road that we have travelled up. On this particular section there were some serious of ‘s’ bends as we traversed up the gorge.

I mentioned yesterday about the lack of vehicles on the roads we are travelling. Today we spent all our time on State Highway 2 from Gisborne to Napier. I decided to count the number of vehicles we saw on our travel to Wairoa which is around 110k – they numbered 8 travelling in our direction and 73 travelling the other way!!! The time it took us to drive this distance – 2.25hrs!!

Our first scheduled stop was Wairoa which is described in our Lonely Planet Guide as ‘a poor little town trying really hard to shirk its rough-edged reputation’. We’re not sure what they are referring to, as we found the people friendly though it is evident that the centre of town is in need of investment in many of the buildings. We had a coffee at a cafe where the owner was keen to chat. however, his first question was quite telling ‘ where are you from and are you just passing through?’ It seems very few people stopover in this locality and are nearly always on their way somewhere else! The town certainly has potential. The picture opposite is the view from where we were sitting outside the coffee shop.

On leaving Wairoa our journey took us through, as on previous days, a number of gorges and passes and various lakes. Lake Waikaremona (Sea of Rippling Waters), which was the largest lake we skirted around, is actually 580m above sea level! Once we passed through this area of rough terrain the highway was fairly flat and followed the coast line of Hawkes Bay for the last 30k as we approached Napier.

We had planned to take lunch at one of the vineyards but it was nearing 2pm when we eventually arrived at Crab Farm Winery. This was recommended in our Lonely Planet Guide which said it was a good stop for lunch and glass of wine. We were not to be disappointed – at last I got to sample Scallops (everywhere we had stopped previously on our journey were either out of them or they were done in batter!!). The presentation and the taste was outstanding. To complement this I had a glass of their Pukera Merlot – it has a deep rich taste. Brenda had a wonderful Red Onion and Feta Tart with a glass of Malbec Merlot, Cabernet  which is one of their newer wines bottled from berry and plum. Sadly due to export restrictions they are unable ship outside of NZ, so,  we bought a few bottles to keep us going through our holiday.

We only had 10k to travel to our destination and we arrived there just after 3pm. It is a pleasant site which has been operating for 75yrs and they are have a big celebration party tomorrow (Sunday). After checking in and locating our pitch we drove into Napier.  Napier is NZ’s capital for art-deco. It was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1931 and in the style that was popular of the time. Most of the streets have retained that 1930’s appearance – a bit like you would see in the Great Gatsby. It is Saturday at 3.30pm as we arrive and the place is really quiet with shops closing at 4.30pm. So we had time to grab a quick coffee before walking around some the streets.

So we near the end of another fantastic day. It has been the warmest so far with the temperature peaking at 24c. The sun is just beginning to set and we are going to end the day as we started with eating outside along with having a sip of one of the red wines we bought earlier today.

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