Leaving our overnight freedom camping spot at Blue Bay, Opoutama, we back tracked to Nuhaka and rejoined SH2 to take us on to Gisborne. The hills were covered in “50 shades of green” as the landscape changed from radiata pine forests, to native trees and ferns. Once again the road was hilly, full of ups and downs and we met plenty of timber trucks fully laden with cut logs going the other way.
We stopped for lunch at a rest area at the top of Wharerata Hill. There is a plaque here which commemorates the completion of major reconstruction of the Wharerata section of State Highway 2 in 1966. The view from this spot is magnificent, looking down on to Poverty Bay and Young Nick's Head. The headland was named after a lad in Captain Cook’s crew, Nicholas Young, who made the first sighting of land, earning himself a gallon of rum and a place in the history book. Captain James Cook and his crew first set foot on New Zealand soil at Kaiti Beach, Gisborne, on 9th October 1769.
Called “Gizzy” by the locals, this is a very busy place. Gisborne certainly embraces the Captain Cook connection and there are several replicas of the Endeavour on high poles throughout the town.
And right in the middle of the main street is the famous clock tower, where several of us sang and danced away 1999 on New Year's Eve as we waited for the year 2000 to arrive. Gisborne was deemed to be the first place in New Zealand to see the new Millennium and we just had to be here for this momentous occasion. After midnight we wandered down to the beach, well rugged up to await the new dawn and the celebrations which unfolded on the beach. Then it was back to our van for a Champagne Breakfast. We were camped in the local High School which opened it’s grounds for caravans, and spent a very enjoyable week here, all that time ago.
Captain Cook is honoured with a statue on Waikanae Beach, as is “Young Nick”. Captain Cook and his crew came ashore seeking fresh food and water, and Captain Cook and Maori chief Toka a-Taiau greeted one another. The traditional Maori challenge was made, and unfortunately misunderstood by the English. Shots were fired, killing some Maori men and the ship hurriedly sailed away without the badly needed provisions, and Poverty Bay received it’s name. From here the Endeavour circumnavigated New Zealand, and Captain Cook plotted the first map of this country.
We are camped at the Waikanae Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, just across from the beautiful sweep of Waikanae Beach – the only complaint is that the sites are rather small for a large caravan plus tow car. School holidays are in full swing and the camp has many families camping, as well as plenty of tourists staying. After five days at Putorino without power we are making full use of the facilities and the laundry has been well used, and we have been doing other necessary jobs, like restocking supplies at the supermarket. Robin took his flat tyre in to get repaired – it is now back where it belongs and the spare is once again secured on the back of the caravan. And he has purchased a new bottle jack to replace his old one which leaked hydraulic fluid everywhere.
The beautiful safe Waikanae beach is just over the fence, and we can hear the the waves breaking on the beach from out site, as well as the hum of the busy port close by as men, machines and ships go about their business.