|Up early again, packed up and checked out by about 9 o’clock. We stopped by the info centre downtown, then walked over to White Island Rendezvous to see about a tour booking and accommodation as we had decided to come back to celebrate Don’s birthday. This would mean back tracking from Gisborne back to Whakatane but we thought it would be worth it.
Off we went to Gisborne, choosing the Gorge Route along Highway 2, 201km and 3:25 hours. We first drove up to the lookout above Whakatane for a look over the town, the Whakatane River and Bay of Plenty, fantastic view, then drove west past the beautiful sandy beaches of Ohope Beach to the town of Opotiki. Once again it was a warm sunny day. The highway from Ohope to Gisborne, the Waioreka Gorge route, followed the Waioeka River for quite some time, up and down and around and up again and around, through rugged native forested mountains, getting steeper and narrower as you go inland, then crossing to more open rolling hills with sheep and some cattle. We probably averaged about 40km/hr, and after about 3 ½ hours we arrived at Gisborne Tudor Park Motel. There weren’t many towns along the way, only a few clusters of houses and not many roads off the highway either. It is a pretty remote area. Once we were following the Wangaromia River for the last 20km or so, the valley flattened and orchards, grapes and other gardens were plentiful. The Gisborne area is well known for its wines as well as being a shipping port and having beautiful sandy beaches right in town.
Sunday, February 10
The sun was shining and it was warm already early in the morning and we decided to go touring around the town a bit; drove up to the look-out over the town, surrounding hills and over Poverty Bay. Gisborne has historic significance in New Zealand with Captain Cook arriving there in 1769. The beach is right at the edge of town, huge shade trees, a wide tract of sand, lovely blue water, crescent shaped line of waves just off shore, and a Holiday Park is situated right on the beach. We stopped for lunch at McDonald’s Café, first time we have seen this add-on to McD’s but offers special coffees and desserts, the adjacent McD’s offered the usual food. The local museum is open on Sundays from 1:30 to 4:00 and that fit into our schedule. It was a most interesting place, a lot of Maori history, extensive use of old photographs, and many articles that were displayed openly, not placed behind glass walls, really quite an excellent small museum.