Our six day pedal around the East Cape ended in the small city of Gisborne set in Poverty Bay, a most inappropriate name. Whilst Keith took the bus back to Opotiki to retrieve the car, Gavin and I explored the city, with its long, beach front cycle path, past the wharf where a huge Chinese ship was being loaded with all those tree trunks that had been passing us on the road. We savoured venturing further inland on the flat coastal plain; a welcome relief after the hills of the Cape. Here, shiny coated cattle of all hues, looked us up and down before returning to graze. Pristine vineyards are dangling with the promise of this year’s crop.
A four hour car trip south, on tortuous roads through hills crying out for rain, brought us to Hawkes Bay, the orchard of New Zealand. Barry and Margaret, Keith’s brother and sister-in-law, were wonderful hosts for the next three nights, at their sumptuous house in the hills above Havelock North. Their son-in-law, Ross, kindly led us on a delightful ride, mainly on limestone tracks, through acres of apple orchards, dripping with ripe fruit; and some of New Zealand’s world renowned vineyards. We also explored the town’s of Hastings and Napier which has echos of the Great Gatsby, it’s Art Deco styling having risen in the wake of a devestating earthquake in 1931.
Another four hour car journey south, through much flatter lands full of large dairy herds, ended at Lower Hutt on the outskirts of Wellington. We are well placed for our early ferry crossing to the South Island tomorrow. With half a day to spare we took a 20 minute train ride for a look around the Capital city, which is set around a large sea inlet. Many of our fellow travellers had a subdued journey back as the Kiwi Cricket team had just collapsed in a one day international against South Africa at the local pitch.