After leaving the redwood forests and thermal springs of Rotorua behind, I headed East.
New Zealand is a wonderful country for many reasons, not least of which is the long roads and beautiful scenery. I love to drive, and NZ gives me my fix. I have several cool apps (Wikicamps and YHA NZ Travel) that, through their various filters, recommend fun sites/points of interest along your route. That’s how I found this little gypsy coffee cart in the middle of a practically deserted highway running along a river valley.
I then visited Gisborne, mainly due to wild hopes of meeting my own personal Guy of Gisborne aka Richard Armitage.
What I found instead was a half-way deserted, poorly graffitied, garbage strewn, industrial town. It’s like the Detroit or Milwaukee of NZ.
I quickly moved on to fairer lands and went south to Napier and the Hawke’s Bay region. I’d only been intending to spend a day or two, and ended up staying 5. There was so much wine tasting to do! And, it’s the Art Deco capital of the world.
Apart from wine tastings, I walked around the town, tried some of the local restaurants, visited a chocolate factory, explored some niche bookstores, went to the aquarium on a rainy day where I saw a live Kiwi bird, and checked out the harbour viewpoint.
Having already extended my North Island travels to two weeks instead of the 5-7 days originally planned, I knew I had to leave Napier at some point to catch my ferry in time. So, when the weather turned, so did I, continuing my journey south, though it was difficult to say goodbye to this beautiful town.
I did a quick swing through Martinborough for some wine tasting. A dreary day, but delicious.
The weather didn’t improve much the further south I went. It was rainy, windy, and cold, especially unprotected on the coast, but there were some beautiful natural land formations, plus I got to see my first New Zealand Fur Seal in the wild!
I then drove back up to a beautifully situated free campsite along the top of Lake Wairarapa for a few hours sleep before waking before dawn to catch my ferry South.