Travel tales #12: Surf and Scenery

 I am writing up my gap year travels from 2006-2007 so that I can self-publish a book to pass on to my niece and nephews. I hope they will read about my adventures and be inspired to explore themselves…and I hope you enjoy my travel tales.

Gisborne, New Zealand, April 2006

On the way to our next destination on the ‘East As’ trip, Gisborne, the bus stopped off at a winery for a tour and tasting. Still struggling with a hangover from the previous evening, I sipped water at the back of the group and felt rather sorry for myself.  I couldn’t face food either so had to sit that out when we stopped as well!

It was a long drive out to Gisborne, we covered about 300km that day on the bus, but it was definitely worth the journey.  Gisborne is a popular place for surfing and is absolutely beautiful.  We stayed in a surf chalet right opposite a long, straight beach with huge rolling waves.  I was fortunate to be allocated to the only dorm at the front of the hostel along with a few other girls, where a huge window looked out over the ocean.  As we didn’t arrive until late afternoon, we popped over the road to watch the surfers for a while, returning for a massive portion of home-cooked spaghetti bolognaise that had been rustled up by our driver (Jerry) and some of the others on the bus.  We all sat around a long table so that we could get to know each other, and I found myself in a very friendly group.


View at dusk from our dorm window

I had a relatively early night and, having successfully slept off my hangover, the next morning some of us went over to watch the surfers again and have a paddle in the cool sea.  Some of the group had got up very early to watch the sunrise, as Gisborne is one of the first places in the world to see it each day, being on the eastern tip of the north island of New Zealand.  Others had gone for surf lessons, but I decided to save my money and energy for later on in the trip.


Surfers in Gisborne

I was tempted to stay on a couple of nights in Gisborne, as it was a very relaxed and laid back place, but as the others on the bus were so nice and we all seemed to have clicked as a group, I felt like I would have missed out had they all gone on without me.  We had been discussing the previous evening that it was usually the people you were with that shape your trip and your experiences, so I decided to stick with my newfound friends and continue on my journey of the east cape.

On the way to our next destination we stopped off in Whangarai, which is the location of a famous Kiwi film called ‘The Whale Rider’.  Free from the bus, we climbed up a big hill to look down on the village. According to Jerry, residents weren’t too keen on tourists coming to gawp at them, so he found us (and them) a safe vantage point, which also treated us to stunning views of the ocean beyond the village.



After a lunchtime stop at a pub by the beach, where we sat sunbathing on the lawn, it was time to head on to our farmstay, which was something that I was really looking forward to.


Links to previous Travel Tales
#1: Nerves
#2: Departure
#3: Tug boats, peaks & pandas
#4: Islands, animals & markets
#5: Sunshine & hostels
#6: Fun & feijoa flavoured vodka
#7: Bays, bravery & the meeting of oceans
#8: Dolphins & premieres
#9: Glow-worms & geysers
#10: Thermal baths & wonderlands
#11: Prisons, earthquakes & wineries