Sunday, 12 May 2013

The East Cape

Our beachside spot at Little Waihi

We know it has been a couple of days since our last entry, but it’ll be another day (at least) before we can upload it as we have no internet connection here, a pity as it’s such a nice beachside spot, allbeit really quite chilly!

We stayed in Opotiki on Thursday night, which isn’t really that far from the previous night, but due to ‘leakage’ of the hand when we took the pressure bandage off we decided to go back to the clinic for more dressing, a different nurse, one who’d spent two years in Solihull dealt with him this time and gave some more practical advice. After washing his hair and his armpits, well his left shoulder means he can’t do the right pit, and the right hand means he can’t do the left pit I stood guard outside the ladies while he had a sponge bath in the babies tub!  
New haircuts!
After this excitement and dinner we managed to catch the news and weather on the TV there, which forecast pretty dire weather on its way, a nasty low sweeping up from the south, depositing the first snow of the year in Milford Sound and on the ski slopes of Coronet Peak, then covering the north island with plenty of rain, followed by cold southerly winds. We’ll all be chilly by tomorrow night he said! After that a ‘high’ comes in, but still with cold southerly winds, so it’ll be sunnier, but colder.

That evening our plans changed slightly when the second of our three internal lights failed in the van. The first one went a couple of weeks ago, but as we never used that we didn’t bother to do anything about it, but when the second went it only left the one we read by and if that went too… So the next day we phoned the nearest service centre, which was in Gisborne and arranged to go straight there and have them both fixed. It meant reversing our plans and doing the shorter inland route via the Waiokea gorge that we did last time, but going north round the East Cape rather than south towards Napier as we did last time. It was all very familiar, which is quite comforting, but as Jackie was driving this time I could look round, but our view of this ‘Great NZ scenic drive’ hasn’t changed from ‘OK’.

Tolaga Bay
The garage in Gisborne quickly repaired the two lights and, in the interim we both got haircuts at the hairdressers that was nearby, giving the girl hairdresser lots of advice on her forthcoming 4 month trip to Europe. She aims to take in London, Paris, Germany, Austria and Italy (have we ever been to Florence – err, no!), we are both not sure 4 months is long enough for all that, she’ll be rushing too much we think!

Anyway, from Gisborne we headed off up the East Cape, stopping our first night in Tolaga Bay (which was named by Cook when he visited here on 24th to 30th October 1769 after leaving Poverty Bay, and is a misinterpretation of the Maori name for the prevailing wind (tenaki). It was a nice little spot and campsite next to the beach (except we couldn’t see the beach due to a large protective bank (in fact the whole campsite seems to be on reclaimed ground with banks all round, sea at the front, swamp at the back) and we were the only campervan there in quite a big campground. 
The weather was never quite as bad as the forecast, but it was cold and tended to showers with occasional sunny intervals. The bay is quite interesting, lots of driftwood on the shore (so we went looking for suitable pieces for Robyn, who wants some for display on the front porch – we got one!) and a refurbished wharf that closed as a port in the 1960’s. 
The campsite has four cats (of which we saw three), so Jackie was happy, only the one with eyes of two different colours came into the van, the one with three legs couldn’t make it that far (it got tangled in a fishnet for three days apparently and had to have it amputated).

The three legged cat

Cook Cove
This morning, despite the showery forecast we did the Cook Cove walkway, a 2 hour walk up over the surrounding hills into the next bay where Cook landed on 23rd October 1769, where he was warmly welcomed by the Maori. Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander went ashore to collect wood and water and saw the ‘hole in the wall’ (Te Kotare-o-te-whenua), remarking “in pursuing a valley bounded on each side by steep hills we saw also an extraordinary natural curiosity … a most noble arch or Cavern through the face of a rock leading directly to the sea. It was certainly the most magnificent surprise I had ever met with, so much is pure nature superior to art in these cases”. It is interesting to compare the drawing he made with the photograph we took. We trod in the same area as famous discoverers!
Joseph Banks' drawing

Our photo

Cooks 1769 map of New Zealand

Anaura Bay

We’ve now driven a bit further up the cape and are now in Anaura Bay, another place visited by Cook. It is 7km off the main road and is a beautiful cove completely isolated. Nothing else is here, no other campers and even the owners are offsite, so tonight we will be alone. Just the crash of the surf on the beach about 20m away (this time we can see the sea!). We haven’t been on the beach yet (I have, I’ve picked up some shells to go with ‘log’, Robyn) as it’s still a bit cold and the weekend papers, tea and Robyn’s cake were calling, oh, and the small cat that came running over (it’s had a bowl of milk already!). 
Bella helping with dinner eating
Her name is Bella and she’s the cutest kitten in the east, mummy and siblings are wild, but she is the softest thing, just afraid of coming in the van, which is probably sensible! Strange site this – the cows are roaming the road free (and the beach, and the camp if they can get in) and underneath a tree we found a dead morepork (owl) which is the saddest thing as we’d have both loved to see a live one, having only heard them up till now!


Bella helping with the washing up

Checking its clean
Nearly time to leave, but we are just prevaricating for the sake of cutie Bella, she bounced into the toilet this morning first thing and has followed us about ‘helping’ ever since – she came in the shower with me, into the tray as soon as I turned the water off, then on the sink as B was shaving sniffing his head and wiping off the soap with her tail, she still wouldn’t come into the van so had 5 minutes to herself while we had breakfast, another of this mornings firsts, avocado on toast, with just a little bit of salt and pepper and lemon juice, followed by feijoa and mandarins, all courtesy of R&M. Washing up, she was a big help, pointing out things still  in the bowl and inspecting the clean stuff. 

Protecting us from a fierce shell, surrounded by cow hoof prints
Then she then came for a walk along the beach with us, making sure we weren’t attacked by empty shells and pieces of seaweed, so that was a first, as well as walking round the cow hoof prints in the sand! We’ve just popped into the kitchen for a quick cuppa to warm up and have a final snuggle while she helped us go through the photos, but I guess the time has come…

She did take the odd wrong turning
You can't see me, I'm hiding...

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