A round trip from Napier back to Napier. South Island 27th to 30th April 2008
11 May 2008
After leaving our camp site we drove into the town, did some shopping and spent time at the internet shop, then drove around the dock and marina areas before setting off south on SH 50 to Waipawa. We had really intended to travel further on SH 50 and then cut across country to Waipawa, before heading to the coast and a small place called Kairakau Beach. The navigator got it wrong and was busy reading route numbers on the sign missing the small A at the side of the 50. We only realised our mistake when we discovered we were on SH 2, not to worry as we are going in the right direction. Waipawa is a small farming community and is also home to Te Aute College, an Anglican Maori School, which we passed on our way into the town noting its lovely old buildings.
Once at Waipawa we turned onto one of the minor roads and drove through some lovely countryside to the coastal area of Kairakau Beach. We had expected to do some bush camping tonight but were pleasantly surprised to find a small campsite with power right on the beach. The small community consisted of the campsite and a couple of beach houses. We pulled in and discovered we had our own private entrance on to the beach right in front of our van. We had a long walk up the beach watching the waves thundering in, and then we returned and walked around to the river mouth. The river bent away from the beach and looked like it went into a gorge but there was no access on foot so we were not able to go and have a look. There was a family camping nearby and one other motorhome, so it was a nice quiet spot. Last week and this coming week are NZ school holidays (their equivalent of the ‘tattie’ picking holidays in Scotland) and we have noticed more people out and about. This is probably due to the very warm autumn we are experiencing; people are just making the most of it.
This evening we commented that when we return home we will either have to move house or get a recording of waves bashing up on the shore. The amount of times we have been lulled off to sleep with this hypnotic sound has been countless and we will miss it back in Coupar Angus. Monday morning was another lovely day and after a quick walk on the beach we set off to continue our trip cutting across country and then back down to the coast to Waimarama. Compared to where we stayed last night this was a large township consisting of a pub, a shop, a camp site and houses. There were a few young people out braving the surf on their boards, so we stopped for a coffee to watch. At a view point above the township we met a young man and his girlfriend. He lived in the community and sang it’s praises as a great place to live and suggested we also visit Ocean Beach, a little further up the coast.
With such a positive recommendation we could not miss it out so we set off to visit it and have lunch there. It was another small costal community with a lovely beach that had a few families out on it. We had a walk along the beach and then returned to the van, where we had lunch sitting out side in the sunshine relaxing. Our destination tonight was Cape Kidnappers a short distance up the coast as the seagull flies but for us it was across country trip then a short drive along the coast to a small campsite huddled at the foot of a very large cliff. We got a front berth and overlooked the sea bashing in on the shore again.
Cape Kidnappers was named by Captain Cook after Tiata; the Tahitian servant of Cook’s translator was kidnapped by the Maori people in 1769. That is where our information ends as we were not able to discover if he was ever rescued. The cape is also home to one of the world’s most famous gannet colonies, and one of only two that can be approached from the mainland. The best time to see the gannets is between November to late April when up to 15,000 young and mature gannets gather to breed. To reach the colony there is a 6 mile walk (or an organised trip on a tractor) along the beach, this is dependant on the tides. When we enquired about doing the walk we were told that low tide was at 5am or 5pm, both meant we would be walking in the dark and the trips were not operating. Noting our disappointment the camp owner told us that like most NZ teenagers, the gannet young had left home and all we would get is the smell left behind. Instead of a 6 mile walk we had to content ourselves with a short stroll up by the cliffs till we could go no further.
Tonight on the news we learnt that severe rain warnings were out for this area for tomorrow. Our decision was to sit it out where we were so Tuesday was spent reading, sorting out photos on the computer and cleaning. We have lots of dust around the place from all the gravel roads we have been driving on lately. What a boring day, hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Wednesday dawned and the sun was out and the sky blue, so we were off again. For those of you out there who are wine connoisseurs you will know that Hawks Bay is a big wine region with Chardonnay as its speciality. We had passed a number of wineries on Monday, why? They all seemed to be closed now as it is out of season. However we did spot one that was open and turned into the drive, a worker in the field waved us down and said they were closed as it was now winter time. We turned the van around, drove out and wondered why if they were closed they would advertise a coffee and freshly baked cake on a blackboard at the side of the road. So we turned the van around and drove up the drive to find it open.
We had a tasting session of some of their lovely chardonnays and some of the Bordeaux styled reds. Clearview Winery made some lovely light fruity white wines with a hint of oak in the Reserve Chardonnay. The reds were fruity and were mostly blends of a number of good grape varieties. We stocked up our wine cellar and had a coffee and freshly backed cake. They only export about 2% of wine to the UK so I do not expect you will be able to find them. The other wineries that were not open will just have to miss out on my critique.
Today we headed to Havelock North, a small town dominated by Te Mata Peak, which stands at the back of it. The town is recognised as having the three best private schools in NZ. We had a walk around and it had a nice feel to it with plenty of pavement cafes about and some nice shops. We managed to find a cobbler who said he would be able to fix Jeff’s sandal, so we left it with him and drove into Hastings to have a look at this city.
Like Napier, it to was badly hit with the earthquake in 1931, and it also used the Art Deco style to replace many of its buildings. The railway runs through the middle of the main street and they have made a nice water feature around it. I got the feeling that Hastings was more of a working town rather than a tourist destination. After a walk around we returned to collect Jeff’s sandal and then find a campsite for the night. We decided to drive through Napier get on to SH 2 and then look for a site at Bay View, a small township on the junction of SH 2 and SH 5. We had seen one in our club camp site directory that we thought might do us fine. It was a new site owned and operated by an ex police man who was into motor homing himself. It was a nice site, but nor quite as idyllic as some we have been in. Tonight we will be sleeping by the main road north and under the flight path for Napier airport.