We stopped for a short hike to some falls while on our way to Wellington to catch the ferry back to the South Island. We left in the morning from Gisborne, which turned out to be a fairly uneventful stop. Here’s the best glimpse we have from Gisborne.
You often drive through Scenic Reserves in New Zealand and a few actually offer hiking trails. Its not too uncommon to go through a reserve without a single place to stop and explore the place. I guess these areas are more for preservation than public access.
From the parking area of the reserve it only took about 20 minutes to get out to the falls. It was more like a pleasant stroll in the woods than a hike, and it was the first forest in New Zealand that reminded me of the forest in western North Carolina. The waterfall though, was a bit unlike those I’ve seen back home. They tend to be cascading falls, were this one was long and streaming, falling from a pretty great height. It was more impressive than I imagined from such an easy walk. Most of the time you expect to put forth a pretty good effort to see such things. We came across a huge wall that culminated in a 80ft waterfall streaming from the end. The rounded rock wall carved from the falling water bore a large pool, great for swimming if it were warmer.
At the head of the trail, back at the little sheltered parking area, we met a family from Wellington travelling to Gisborne together in an RV for a reunion. I swear the older man was Crocodile Dundee. Now, the rest of the family was nothing like him in that they seemed like normal urban people unaffected by the outback. He on the other hand was chatty, upbeat, he had the attire (complete with that hat with all the bones around it), and he chased a chicken that had wandered up. Possibly for fun, possibly for dinner, its hard to tell. Great folks though. We even shared some of our feijoas that we picked up from an old farm couple earlier in the trip (we were actually their first customers of the year).
We stopped at another roadside reserve that housed a lake and a donation based camping area. It would have been a great place to stop for the night if we happened to find it at the end of the day.
We passed by quite a few great places on this trip where we would have loved to stay if only they were farther along the road. We unfortunately didn’t have enough time to stop at every great camping area we found.
We ended the day in the city of Napier. Well, we actually ended the day at a mobile park southwest of Napier, but we spent most of the day there. It was a very cool city, known for its art deco architecture. It was really impressive, very clean and well kept. Everything is fairly new, since an earthquake levelled the city earlier in the 1900′s. I was particularly impressed with the seaside park. We were there late in the day and the sharp lines of the shadows falling diagonally across the grecian columns of the veranda was a photographers dream. I didn’t take any pictures at the time, which I now regret, but I found this image on the web. It doesn’t quite illustrate what I’m talking about here, but beggars can’t be choosers.
We went to the National Aquarium in Napier and we absolutley loved it. I saw a kiwi for the first time in the kiwi habitat. It can’t be as remarkable as viewing the birds in the wild, but it was pretty cool nontheless. We also went through a ocean tunnel where the sea life, including lobsters, sharks, eels, and fish were all around you.
We spent our last night about 30 minutes outside of Wellington at a small beach town called Paekakariki. We spent the evening set up at a little beachside cove in the Queen Elizabeth Park. The sunset was really beautiful, and we enjoyed it all the way up to the point when the ranger told us to leave. The park closed after sunset, but the ranger, who was really pleasant, told us we could camp on the roadside just outside of the park gates. That was really great, since now we have a safe, beachside, free place to stay around Wellington.
We had a few hours to spare that next morning before we had to catch the ferry back to Picton, so we drove around the city, checked out the Mt Victoria lookout, and went back to Te Papa to see some exhibits we missed the first time.
Now we are back in Christchurch and are settling back in for a stretch without any long trips. Al has gotten back to work, although he’s really been working throughout. And I’m sending out my resume to a few ophthalmologists and doctors offices, and I’m searching webpages and paper for a job. Al and I both are looking into school, we both really would like to go back. Even though our travels are over for now, we’ll try to keep things interesting (for the sake of the blog of course). Oh, and if you go back to the Lake Coleridge entry I have finally linked those pictures, so go and view them full size. I’m writing out the code myself to get the links to work, so there you go Dad, I’m a programmer!
Tags: New Zealand, Travel