Ok, so I spent the last few days over the weekend on the East Coast of the North Island!
We headed off on Friday morning and went via Rotorua to pick up everyone that was on our trip!! We had 8 of us, myself, Mali, Kat, Katie, Caz, Lou, George and Phillip!! Everyone waqs really nice and friendly and we all got on so well!! Anyway on Friday, Rex , our driver, took us to Gisborne! We went via the 'sacred tree' that had saved a woman and babys life according to Mauri stories!! We all got out and hugged the tree :) We then went to a supermarket which would be the last one we would see until we were back in Rotorua!! Finally it was on to Gisborne, and we stayed at a small place right on the sea in a nearby town!! Once we were there, I went out with Mali, Lou and George to fed some wild stingrays!! We saw both long tail and short tail rays!! The long tailed ones, were only about 70cm wide and were beautiful, however the short tailed ones were about 1.5m wide and were huge!! They were all really friendly though and at one point we had about 5 or 6 around us!! We had plenty of fish to fed them and we had to hold it out under the water and feed it into the rays mouth!! I managed to get a shorter piece of fish at one point and got a little nip off one of them but it didn't break the skin!! With the short tailed ones, their mouths were a bit further back so you have to get most of your arm under the water!! It was awesome fun though and we got some brilliant pictures of us all in some super sexy boots and waterproof dungerees!! We then all headed across the road to our accommodation for the night and started watching the Whale Rider!! In the evening however, we headed back down to the place on the beach for some wine tasting!! It was a brilliant night and we tasted 8 wines and then Ryan, the guy who ran it, let us finish the bottles he had opened!!
On Saturday, we woke up with some sore heads but headed off reasonably early to go to our next place!! On our way, we went past the Mauri Village where the Whale Rider was set!! It was pretty cool to see, especially as many people don't get to see it as it isn't signposted!! We then went on to a Marea, which is the Mauri house! We were welcomed in by song by Ann, and in return we sang a Mauri song that we had been learning for the last 2 days in the bus! Luckily Phillip played the guitar and so we had some music to guide us!! We had a look around the Marea and Ann told us some more about the culture which was interesting!! We then headed off to our hostel for the night at Tikitiki!! In the afternoon, all us girls and Phillip decided to go horse riding on the beach!! I got given a horse called Mona Lisa who behaved to start with but when we were out on the front lawn waiting for everyone, he decided to be a greedy horse and just stand and eat grass rather than let me walk aorund with him!! We all set off together and walked down to the beach, which took about an hour!! Luckily we avoided the rain and the horses were pretty well behaved!! It was cool once we got on the beach as we then got to trot with the horses!! The girls who had ridden before had a good canter as well!! Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy so wasn't quite the amazing view we had imagined!! Overall it was good fun though, but I think we all felt the horses were a bit crazy!! In the evening, it started tipping it down so us girls stayed in a had a good chit chat!! The boys however went out possum hunting and managed to kill some!! In NZ, they are absolute pests so they encourage hunting and road kill!!
On Sunday, it was raining again so we went straight to our hostel which was in Te Kaha! It was run by a Mauri family and they welcome us into their house!! It certainly wasn't your normal hostel as when we went to put our food in the walk in fridge, we were greeted by a dead deer, dead pig and dead pheasant! That afternoon, they took them to get weighed as there was a local competition to raise money for charity!! We had a pretty chilled afternoon and headed to the only shop which was conveniently next door to the only pub!! The shop was shut so we headed next door for a drink to watch the sunset! After dinner, most of us had some drinks in the house, and we were joined by some local Mauri boys who had been hunting with the family!! They certainly weren't like your normal Kiwi boys, and were a bit intimidating to start with but once we got to know them, they were a good laugh as long as you took them with a pince of salt!!
We headed back on Monday and were gutted to say goodbye to everyone who we had met and our driver Rex!! Having a chill out day today in Taupo and then heading down to River Valley tomorrow!!
Sending lots of 'East As' love