storm, sunshine and seabirds

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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » East Coast
December 21st 2014
Published: January 28th 2015
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I woke up to hear heavy rain hammering on the roof of our motel room. Peering through the window, we could see lowering skies and a thick blanket of mist obscuring the views. We waited until ten o'clock to leave but as the downpour was unrelenting, we set off.

Driving round the exposed East Cape to the lighthouse, we saw storm-tossed seas and rocks when the mist permitted. Visibility was low and we drove carefully on the unsealed road.

We decided against crossing damp grassland and climbing the 200 steps to the lighthouse, especially when a sign advised us against such a course of action during heavy rains. As we drove back, though, the weather changed, quite suddenly, and the fog cleared. I could get a photo of the lighthouse perched forlornly on a crag. On our right, colour came back into the sea and on our left, huge waterfalls thundered out of the mist into thickets of pohutukawa trees. By the time we rejoined State Highway 35, the rain had stopped.

The rest of the day was a joy. We visited a series of gorgeous bays, doing short walks to viewpoints and clambering over rocks along beaches with turquoise seas. In one bay, we saw black-backed gulls perched on algae-covered rocks enjoying the sunshine. Another place had a ruined causeway with white-fronted terns and young seabirds perched on decaying wood, and beautiful panoramas of sea, sand and hill. At Tolaga Bay, we walked along New Zealand's longest wharf at 660 metres.

We reached Gisborne around 5 p.m. and got an airy motel room overlooking the harbour. Dining out on seafood and drinking wine in a pub, we celebrated another wonderful day.

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