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Published: October 15th 2006
With just a touch of trepidation...we both made it across!
The hostel we stayed in on Tuesday night made us very glad to have our own van. The area has many vinyards and requires quite a few seasonal workers - some of which had made home in the hostel. We felt like we were intruding!
On leaving our hostel we made our way to a lookout called Bluff Head for great views over Napier and Hawke Bay, on a good day you can also see to Mount Ruapehu looking inland. We made the short journey from Napier to the nearby town of Hastings. We had a brief look around the town but there wasn't much to do as the action in the area happens in the countryside. We returned to Max to find out that we had a parking ticket! It seems that we parked the wrong way around - talk about pedantic! Anyway, the local council offices were very close so we made our way there and I played the stupid tourist and managed to get the ticket cancelled. While our luck held up we made a hasty exit from Hastings.
Another short drive away is the town of Havelock North which we reached by lunch
time. Here we found our campsite and contemplated the afternoon's entertainment. The weather was glorious and we embarked on a walking tour of the local businesses. The first port of call, a 10 minute walk up the road from the campsite, was the Arataki honey factory and visitor centre. Here we learnt all about the bee keeping and honey manufacturing process. They had a selection of indoor hives which were quite interesting and were amused by the bees doing their 'honey dance' which directs other bees to a newly discovered source of nectar - they even rotate in the direction it's in relative to the sun...talk about intelligent! We also got to sample several of the honeys that were on sale and bought a couple of jars (would be rude not to!).
We continued our walk in the sunshine to a nearby winery. Here we got chatting to an English lady who had immigrated a couple of years ago, while tasting some delicious wine. We were also treated to a portion of soup from the restaurant by the very friendly Scottish chef. I think we had found our way back to Britain somehow! Anyway, we got the wine tasting
In the Hawkes Bay area.
for free (usually two dollars due to the very generous tastes - good job I wasn't driving) as we purchased a bottle of wine to enjoy in the evening. We left the winery headed for a cheese factory down the road. The journey was made a lot easier by a lift from the Scotish chef who was heading that way. There wasn't any tour or information available but there were a few cheeses to sample so we got stuck in. Not being able to agree on one particular cheese we had to buy two (good job we hadn't rented bikes like we were going to otherwise it could have been an expensive day). We finally started to cruise back to the campsite but popped into another vinyard on the way seeing as it was there. Wine tasting here was free but we figured that the lady serving it was scared to let the wine out of the bottle as you could barely taste the miniscule portions. We restrained on buying any more wine which was a good job as it was more pricey than the first place. We did however buy some funky coasters so we didn't get away scot
On our way to Cape Palliser we hit sheep and cattle who weren't fussed on moving
Back at the camp we had a nice swim before getting stuck into sampling the purchases made during the day. Then we watched an awful film which wasn't helped by there being adverts every eight minutes!
Thursday was set out for travelling as we headed from the east coast towards the south west. We were passing through the Wairapa region to Martinborough which was a bit more friendly to Max as the roads were a lot flatter and straighter meaning we could cover some distance. The only thing hindering the journey was the strength of the wind which I had to continually fight to keep the van on the road. Max also has exceedingly drafty doors and these were rattling like mad.
We had a few stops on the way, the first being near Havelock North at another natural lookout called Te Mata Peak, which again gave great views of Hawke Bay, Hawkes Bay (the area around Hawke Bay is called Hawkes Bay!) and inland to the mountains. We also managed to stop at a brewery for Tui beer (although there wasn't any tasting) and then Paua World where Alex found some earrings that
Cape Palliser lighthouse
There were over 250 stairs to climb up to the lighthouse and gale force winds didn't help!
she liked made from the Paua shell. The best stop of the day was after an hour detour from our route, not surprisingly up another gravel road, to a swing bridge. The was basically a rope bridge made of wire over a 40 metre high gorge and must have been 30-40 metres across. Alex managed to brave the bridge first (only one person at a time), which was very impressive in her non-practical flip flops. I soon followed at a steady pace as the wind was quite bad blowing the bridge around and you could see through the bottom of the bridge to the stream 40 metres below. We both decided that this was a great attraction, especially as it was free.
We found our campsite in Martinborough and had a look around the small town. We had decided to eat out and found some great pub food at the Martinborough hotel. We both had a delicious steak washed down with several beers/wines.
We set off travelling again on Friday morning. We were unlucky with our first stop of the day as we were hoping to see some glow worms in caves not far from town.
Fur seal colony
We didn't spot this camoflaged seal until we were about 10 metres from it
The caves are on private land but the farmer is happy to have people walk through them. Unfortunately for us the caves were closed - probably due to lambing season but we didn't get an explanation.
We continued our travels and headed for the most southerly point of the north island, an area called Cape Palliser. The weather was really windy again and we made our way up the 250 or so steps to the lighthouse. On top we had some great views of the rugged coast line but had to hang on for dear life in the gusts of winds that hit us up there. We soon made our way down to the beach for a more relaxed walk but were still being pounded. We were keeping our eyes open for the seals that collonise the beaches but hadn't seen any until one moved while sunbathing about 5 metres from where we were standing! We managed to spot several after a while and enjoyed watching the waves batter the shore.
We moved on from Cape Palliser back up the road to another Department of Conservation camp site. Here we had a great hike up a stream bed and
After a steep climb, the view of the gravel pinnacles was well worth it.
then through the bush over hills to an area called the Putangirua Pinnacles. Here the gravel rock has been eroded over time but there are some places where hard rock has prevented erosion in some places. The result is loads of pinnacles or pillars of rock standing away from the main rock face. The area was also used for a small portion of the Lord of the Rings story where Leagolas tells the story of the Army of the Dead. We returned to our campsite along the stream bed to spend the night. Unfortunately there were again flies here and Alex has been bitten all over, while a few managed to get me too.
Saturday was spent travelling to Wellington with a few stops on the way. The first stop was at a park where more filming took place. We had a wander around the area and saw where Rivendell was set, although it takes a lot of imagination to try and picture the scenes. We also had another walk across a swing bridge but it wasn't as impressive as the previous one. We then made our way to Harcourt park. This was the setting for the
View over the Hutt river, near to where Rivendell LOTR scenes were filmed.
Gardens of Isengard and were a bit more reconisable. The park is also a great example of a fault line in the earth's surface as the Pacific plate and Australasian plates meet. It was also quite strange in the park as we were surrounded by the sounds of bag pipes and drums as there was a Highland festival and competition taking place.
In the afternoon we made our way up Mount Victoria in the centre of Wellington. The mountain has fantastic views of the city, none of which we saw as the cloud was too low and the wind was blowing, again! No wonder Aucklanders call this place Windy Welly. Walking down the mountain we endeavoured to recognise another LOTR scene, as this was where the Hobbiton to Bree journey was filmed.
We spent the day in Wellington having a good look around the city. We toured the museum (Te Papa) in the morning which was really good but some of the things are getting a bit repetative. We also just cruised the streets which were sleepy seeing as it was a Sunday and the weather was again grim. Wellington seems to have a nicer feel to it than Auckland, so we may well have another look around on our way back north. We have to pick up our new passports on the way in any case.
Tomorrow we head for the south island on the ferry!
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