After a great night's sleep in a huge, comfy bed & breakfast brought to our room, we took off for Ohope Beach which stretches for 11km along the Pacific coast. Wow! No wonder this is New Zealand's most loved beach! The sand is white, the sea is the bluest blue imaginable & it's all set off by the incredibly beautiful countryside around it. We called into a little cafe for coffee & chatted to a couple of locals, then sauntered along the beach in the sunshine.
On the road again, we stopped at Whakatane Heads to admire the statue of Wairaka "The lady on the Rock", which was given to the people of Whakatane by Sir William Sullivan in 1965. From tne beach Whale Island provides a backdrop to the statue. As I was taking photos I got talking to a local couple - Cath & Dave - a conversation that lasted an hour & resulted in the exchange of email addresses & a promise to meet in London when they make their next visit to England in search of their English ancestors! According to Dave there was a 4.1 earthquake last night, but we didn't feel the earth move as we were fast asleep! We eventually moved on to the Mataatua Reserve to visit the Maori Wharenui, but it was already closed! Most places here seem to close by 4.30 pm, which is a bit of a shock for travelling Pom's who are used to everything being available almost 24/7!
Back in Whakatane we found an old coaching Inn "Cobb & Co" who were open, & where we ate a roast dinner with fresh veg - wonderful! And, even though we're not Kiwis we were given an OAP discount by the waiter who's mum is an Essex girl!
The next morning we headed for Eastland, taking a leisurely drive to Gisborne through the endless winding road through the Waioeka Gorge. This area was one of the first discovered by Maori & European explorers. Taurawhiti (Gisborne) is considered to be the birthplace of New Zealand & is where the two races - Pakeha (European) & Maori first met. Captaìn Cook landed at Gisborne & the hills opposite the city are known as "Young Nick's Head" (Te Kuri O Paoa) - the first land to be spotted by one of Cook's crew (Young Nick) We went for a brief walk along the waterfront & around town where everything was shut as not only was it Saturday, but also a holiday weekend! So we gave up & went hunting for somewhere that would be open long enough for us to have something to eat. Eventually we came across a very lively place called "The Jolly Stockman" where all the locals seemed to be enjoying themselves! We found a quiet table & had a really good meal served to us by a young Italian who was working his way around New Zealand.
Then it was back to "Wheatstone Retreat" where we were greeted by Sophie, our French host.