The last few days have been amazing! Wonderful weather, lovely places & lots of interesting conversations with people from various corners of the globe! On the way to Tauranga we stopped off at the Karangahake Gorge & had a look at the remains of the Gold mines & Stamper Battery. This area was once the busiest & most lucrative gold mining area in New Zealand. We took a 1.3 km walk through the wet, dark & thankfully cool Gorge tunnel & then went along the base of the Gorge in the shade of the trees by the waterside.
Tauranga, "the place of rest & anchorage" is New Zealand's 5th largest city & our homestay is one of the oldest houses in the city. It's an absolutely lovely Colonial style house which has been lovingly cared for by Kevin, the owner & our host for two nights. Although we arrived a little early, the lovely Kevin made us very welcome & even helped us lug our cases upstairs to our room. We then set off to explore Mount Manganui. We trudged around Mauao's base track, which seemed to go on forever & were glad we opted not to climb the 232 metres to the top as we would probably have expired in the heat! Fortunately there were plenty of trees on the track & we were able to stand in their shade & look out on the spectacular views across the water. When we stumbled down from Mount Manganui we were really hungry so went in search of food, eventually eating a decidedly average meal in a cafe in the town - at least we were no longer hungry!
After all that walking we were somewhat tired so went back to "Taipororo House" to relax with a cuppa in the lovely conservatory before staggering up the stairs to our bed!
The following morning we ate a proper breakfast at the big dining table with all the other guests; two ladies from Vancouver, a young couple from Poland & a young woman from Russia. The conversation flowed & touched on many subjects, but there was a great deal of discussion about Trump & his policies, which seemed to be extremely unpopular with everyone around that table! Breakfast lasted rather a long time, but was a very stimulating & enjoyable start to the day!
Then we were on our way to Whakatane (pronounced "Fa-ka-tan-eh" try saying that quickly!) Our motel aaccommodation was new & very spacious with a separate bedroom, big sitting room/kitchen & huge bathroom with a big shower & a spa bath, plus excellent air conditioning. Luxury! We walked into town & along the quay & discovered that it is the site of one of the earliest Maori settlements in NZ & has a long Maori tradition dating back more than a thousand years. Europeans began settling in the 1830s when whalers, sealers & missionaries made their homes in Whakatane; soon there was also a thriving ship building industry. They also produced maize, potatoes, wheat & flax.
No wonder they called it the Bay of Plenty!