Bay of Plenty - a bay of many...
Bay of Plenty - a bay of many...
14/07/2016Bay of PlentyNew Zealand, North Island3.5 out of 2 ratings
After 4 weeks staying and working in Gisborne it is time for us to leave now. Sometimes you need to remove the old stuff and make space for something new and shiny. Eat our dust Gisborne!
We head towards the north beginning of July to explore the Bay of Plenty. We have to skip the compulsory drive to the East Cape because the weather forecast is eerie for that region. Our first stop on the way leads us to the Tauranga bridge, an old wood bridge where we meet 2 huntsman for a little chat. It is interesting for us Germans to see that literally every local is allowed to go hunting in the declared areas. Unfortunately those two were not successful this morning. In contrast to us, we hunted successfully for wild mint next to the river. On the way we are forced to make another stop over because of the stunning view of White Island. The volcano is spitting thick clouds of smoke into the air and it is an amazing performance. We really like that picture which gives us goose bumps.
Bread for the fishes & the cave of the sybil
We reach Whakatane in the late afternoon and start exploring it with a little stroll through the streets. It is pretty petit indeed but there are several restaurants and bars which give the impression of a very prosperous city life. Our first morning in Whakatane starts with a cute little encounter with a little girl and her father. They are feeding bread to the wild eels (it is the endemic long-fin eel) in the small creek. She invited us immediately to join them throwing bread into the water to feed the fishes. We enjoy feeding them and get a good close up view on the animals. In the afternoon we go on a heritage walk through the city. It is a nice, relaxing walk in the sunshine. The path leads us to different sculptures and magical places that go back to the early maori settlement. Particularly impressive is the Muriwai cave, where a Sybil has lived until it collapsed. The Pohaturoa, a massive rock, which is tapu (sacred) due to its ritual meaning is equally striking to see. Additionally there is a historical background as the chiefs of Ngati Awa signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which is the birth certificate of New Zealand, here in 1840. If you want to know about this, read our story about the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
The path leads us along the coast side. We get beautiful views of the sea, the harbour and the imposing sculpture of the brave warrior‘s daughter Wairaka. The story about Wairaka explains how she has saved the life of the maori settlers arriving at Whakatane in a waka. Her father Toroa and his warriors had left the canoe to greet the local chief and his people. All of a sudden the tide changed and the canoe was about to come upsite down. Although it is not allowed for women to steer a waka, Wairaka interfered and saved the women on board.
The before mentioned warrior Toroa received 3 orientation points from his father to finally find that promising bay which his father had already explored before. Next to the already mentioned cave of the Sybil, a waterfall and a rock formation in the harbour should show them the right path. The rock formation has been removed to enable more shipping vessels to use the harbour. Of course there was a high amount of protest against this changing of the natural harbour shape. Nevertheless you can hear the third orientation point, the Wairere Falls already from far away thundering down the hills. Obviously they also make a good playground as there were kids playing in the freezing cold water without any shoes of course.
Where is Car Class when you need it?
The New Zealand variety of the shop (Car Class in Germany) is called Smith & Smith and we are lucky to find it in Whakatane. The reason we need them is a big chip in our windscreen which definitely needs some professional repair. Fortunately our insurance includes repair of glass and so we are completely relaxed about walking to the AMI insurance company and informing them about the damage. In the meantime the Smith & Smith repair professionalist starts to seal Marty‘s little window damage. At the time the AMI called Smith & Smith to tell them to start the work, Marty was already finished a long time ago. That‘s what we call customer service.
False Alarm and true friends
In the evening we have to look for a new campsite and we find it in Ohope, directly next to the beach. It is really peaceful here. There is no one else but another Econovan and we have a beautiful view at the night sky. We had just started cooking as we heard that loud and penetrating siren breaking the silence. After the siren howled for the 10th time in a row, we become a bit nervous. We packed all our stuff somewhere safe and got ready to leave the place to find out what is going on. We feel a bit uncomfortable so close to the sea and that siren is simply not stopping to howl. But before we leave we want to make sure the other van is at least awake as well and ready to leave in case it is necessary. Bianca walks over to them and knocks on their door but they also don‘t know what is going on. Therefore we start Marty and drive into town to see if there is some evacuation or something else going on. But we find the town sleepy and peaceful as it was the whole time. We stop at the petrol station because there is a man calmly refilling his truck. He answers our questions regarding the siren and tells us that it must be fire alarm for the local fire brigade. If it is a Tsunami siren it wouldn‘t howl up and down, it just keeps going without any stop for a long time. Hearing this makes us calm down a lot and now we are prepared if this occurs again. But better be safe than sorry. We head back to the campsite and relax a bit.
At least we have checked that we need approximately 10min to pack all our stuff and get ready to leave
On the next morning we get into contact with our neighbours and our companions in sorrow from last night. We learn that they are from France and we have already made similar experiences in New Zealand and in our life in general. However they have travelled for far longer than we have and we can learn so much from their experiences. We chatter the whole day and time just flies by. We like them right from the start because we understand each other and feel a good chemistry between us. It is so inspiring to meet lovely and interesting people whilst travelling. We exchange our contact details and are looking forward to see them again.
After all this trouble we need some cheery leisure time joy. Therefore we finally visit the cinema again and watch the kiwi movie Hunt for the wilder people. Just hilarious and superb entertainment. Absolutely recommended! Tauranga a city with small heights and a lot of depths for us.
Tauranga - for us a city with a lot of downs and just one up
We leave Whakatane the next day and drive directly to Te Puke, the mecca of kiwi fruit seasonal job. However no one seems to be working today and therefore we have to leave with unaccomplished matters. Our next destination is Tauranga: New Zealands fastest growing city with a big container port. We expect a living big city with all the pleasantness of urban living. Indeed we are not disappointed, it is loud, crowded with people and cars and there are shops and restaurants everywhere. We stroll a bit through the inner city and try to get an overview of Tauranga‘s sightseeing options. It seems to be only a limited choice. One of the highlights is definitely Mount Maunganui or otherwise called Mauao or simply the Mount. It has a height of 232m and can be seen from far away. Every local seems to ask the same question Have you been on the Mount yet?.
So we need to find out the secret of this Mountain and give it a go. Actually we start with a walk around it before we conquer the hill top. You have beautiful views up there and many stroller use the magnificent day for a climb up the Mount.
Once you have done the Mount, the remaining choice of sights is really limited. Besides we are not fully happy with the campsite options. There are heaps of free campsites in Tauranga. Anyway we find it strange that every single one of them gets closed with gates between 7pm and 6am. What are they thinking? What if there is an emergency?
Generally we feel the locals are more sceptical or even unfriendly towards travellers, especially those in campervans. That‘s why it is no surprise that it was only a matter of time before the Tauranga incident occurred to us
It all started with us being naive thinking that a sunny day would be good for doing some washing and drying of our piles of clothes. We choose a place in a public park a bit farther away from the playground and skater park. Finally we put up our line between Marty and a tree and hang all our clothes there for drying.
Suddenly there was an old lady in a stylish sports dress who seems to have spotted us and our clothing line. She took her phone and made lots of pictures and even a video. At first we thought oh that‘s all just some joke, but only until she started to attack us with her words. She thinks it is cheeky of us to put our clothes line up here and surely nobody wants to see our clothes. She said it is disgusting to see our clothes. At first we were just shocked by that sudden turn of the situation and we tried to take the edge off. Nevertheless the lady couldn‘t be convinced of anything else and we asked here where to go instead with our clothes. She just simply spat at us: Go home. Bäm. That hit us hard. 1:0 for the old lady. Nobody ever told us something rude like this or even came close to that idea. Thomas just fights back and sends a tactically smart
The funny thing is that the old lady got troubles breathing normally about the fact that we called her old. Stupid seem to be fine for her. Only her appearance mattered to her. We are truly shocked and decided to leave Taurange straight away. It is a pity that our impression of the city is somehow influenced by this negative experience. However other cities and regions appeared to be much nicer in general. We drive away with squeaking wheels and wave our freshly washed hanky to say Goodbye Tauranga.
We drive directly to the next kiwi fruit picking mecca Katikati and spend a night here on a campsite next to the sea. We are still under shock and as a women crosses our washing line, we suddenly expect the worst case. But she is really friendly and starts a little chat with us like normal kiwis usually do. Nevertheless Katikati couldn‘t really offer us much, neither a job nor a functioning library. So we leave it behind quickly.
The Gold fever is still burning
Our way leads us to Waihi, which is actually part of the Coromandel peninsula. Out of a coincidence we find a beautiful and educational walk. We go straight ahead to a big cathedral which is located in the middle of the city. As soon as we have reached the cathedral we realize it is empty and looks more like a ruin. After some informative reading we learn that it is indeed an old pumphouse and no cathedral at all. It belongs to the Martha mine, which can be discovered by a loop walkway. It is New Zealands richest gold mine which is in operation since 1878. After a huge landslide in April the mining was on hold but is no back to normal working processes. It is supposed to keep on going until 2020. Around the mine there are lots of interesting relicts and mining trucks on display. We are heavily impressed and feel a bit gold feverish as well. We feel not only feverish but like we have wings now as we have received a message from our French couple offering us a job in Opotiki. This is an offer we cannot refuse. And that is the end to our trip to Coromandel peninsula for now. We have to follow the call of the French and head back to Bay of Plenty.
No comments so far. Don't you want to be the first one?