I haven’t spent a lot of time in the Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty, but in passing through and spending a few nights in the area on January, I can honestly say I think it’s a beautiful area of New Zealand. We drove from the west coast of the North Island to this part of the country, and Tall (my boyfriend at this time) and his sister warned me about the drive over the Paraparas, the rugged hills leading across this part of the country; I don’t usually suffer from car sickness, but I did find myself feeling a little queasy as we wound torturously over and around the road.
We visited the area in 2006, meeting up with friends for New Years Eve. If we were to go back now, our itinerary would be quite different, and I’m confident we would visit a few wineries in the area.
We stopped briefly in this 1930s art deco paradise for lunch; the buildings were striking and I loved how cute everything looked. It’s worth stopping along Marine Parade to admire the statue of Pania of the Reef.
We spent a few days in Gisborne, staying at the camping ground for music festival Rhythm & Vines (without actually attending the festival). Much of our time was spent drinking and eating, or swimming at the beach which was a five minute walk from the camping ground, so we didn’t do much sight-seeing. However, I do remember that the main street was lined with gorgeous trees and little wooden waka.
After indulging a little in Gisborne, Tall and I camped at Ohope Beach for a few days on our own. We stayed in a little camping ground over looking the beach, where we spent our days. We visited Whakatane for half a day, and also visited my sister, brother-in-law and then-six-month-old niece his parents’ house in Te Puke. We ate loads of fresh kiwifruit and avocados, for which the area is renowned.