269 Days on the Road
Our plan today is to check out the Mahia Peninsula, famed for its rugged coastal scenery and awesome surf beaches. However, the wind and rain is raging today (New Zealand likes to throw these weather bombs at you from time to time), so we it’s not exactly beach weather. However, when you’re only here once, why not check out the place anyway?
Feeding the eels in Morere
But before leaving Morere though, there is one last quick thing we want to do. We say goodbye to our host at the Morere Hot Springs Lodge and head on over next door to the Morere Tearooms & Holiday Park to feed the eels! The friendly staff at the tearooms point us to the best eel-feeding spot alongside the river at the back of the property, as well as giving us a perished loaf of bread to feed the eels with.
Robin litters the river…
Robin, who has clearly never fed ducks or any animal before with a loaf of bread before, starts hilariously throwing full slices, one straight after the other into the river.
“What are you doing?! You’re supposed to break off pieces! You’re just littering the river, here!” Laura shouts. Now that half a loaf of bread is already floating down the river, we sit and wait for some slithering activity. Within five minutes, a couple of small eels make their way toward us. Now, Robin rips off tiny pieces for them. The eels even slither up the rocks for a feed. It’s so cool to watch! But they nap their pieces of bread and quickly return to whatever hole they slithered out of.
Hummmm… No other eels are interested. The staff at the tearoom said that she recently counted 21 eels last time she fed them, but they could have moved on down the river with all the recent heavy rainfall. Determined not to give up too quickly, Robin throws the rest of the loaf into the river, he even builds what he likes to call a “bread dam”, but no more eels come. Robin is in despair.
No matter! We still have the Mahia Peninsula to check out on the way to Gisborne!
The Mahia Peninsula
Mahia Peninsula is only a 20-minute drive from Morere and a great excuse to break up the journey between Morere and Gisborne. As soon as we hit the exposed coast, our car really feels the force of the wind. Before us, we see a huge stretch of beach currently made up of some extreme white water. The waves are going nuts! We pull over at an inviting car park above this long-stretching black-sand beach and watch as the waves rage on below us.
A road trip-friendly journey
We find that the Mahia Peninsula is extremely road trip-friendly with heaps of places alongside the road to pullover and admire the view. We stop on several rugged cliff sides, looking out toward the sandbar joining the mainland with the Mahia Peninsula. It’s an awesome view, even if the rain clouds cover most of the hills of the peninsula. We can actually see the weather quickly washing over the peninsula, giving it a brief moment of sunshine, before more rain clouds engulf it. Our car literally shivers in the wind at the sight of it.
A walk along Mahia Beach
Once we are on the sandbar ourselves, the rain finally decides to stop. We take the opportunity to have a quick walk on the huge Mahia Beach. Unsurprisingly, the surf beach is deserted today apart from a couple of seagulls and some little fast-running birds that we have never seen before. Driftwood logs along the way provide good climbing frames… err, we mean seating areas. Plus, the beach has the Mokotahi Scenic Reserve on top of a pretty magnificent hill decorating the end of the beach.
One of the many lookout stops along the Mahia Peninsula
Lunch at the Beach Cafe
When the rain decides to hit again, we run for shelter in the beachfront cafe aptly named The Beach Cafe. We meet the lovely owner, again, aptly named Sandy, and order ourselves a pizza and burger. All the pizzas, which have a chalk board menu on a surf board, are named after the surf breaks in the area. Robin orders an “Annihilation Point” pizza and Laura gets the hamburger, which we’ll end up sharing because its too tasty to keep to yourself.
After having a wee chat with Sandy, eating some delicious food in this totally beach-themed and vibrant cafe, and staying out of the wind and rain, we hit the road for our final stint up to Gisborne.
Onward to Gisborne!
Driving up to Gisborne marks our last moments in the Hawke’s Bay region. Not long after passing Morere, we see the “Goodbye from Hawke’s Bay” sign. Now, our Eastland adventure begins starting with the biggest hub in the region, Gisborne. We have heaps of stuff lined up, from surfing to brewery touring!
As we drive over the hill, we get a glimpse of Poverty Bay. Not only is it a beautiful view but it is a historic bay where the British first landed on New Zealand and had their first encounter with the Maori people.
Checking into the YHA
We arrive in Gisborne and check into our accommodation for the next three days, YHA Gisborne. With the weather still gloomy, tonight seems as good a night as any to check out a place called The Dome Cinema on the corner of Childers Road and Customhouse Street – just a quick walk from the YHA.
The Dome Cinema
Situated in the Poverty Bay Club building, there are many entrances into the cinema. We feel like we are snooping around the back rooms until we see a door leading into a beautifully lit bar. We give our orders for the interval pizza (yes, pizza again… Don’t judge us), get a couple of locally-produced drinks, and are given an “order number” of a famous person in showbiz. The bar tender looks Robin up and down and hands “Homer Simpson” over to him. Lolz!
Then it’s into the most comfortable-looking cinema we’ve ever laid eyes on. Bean bags lie invitingly in rows on the floor topped with extra pillows. The back of the room has a couple of sofas to get cosy on, one of which we claim, feeling so at home that Laura even kicks her shoes off.
As people are getting into their beanbags, the staff are holding the beanbags for them, helping them get comfortable. And again, during the interval. The interval also includes the delivery of our pizzas straight to our sofa! We certainly feel like we are kicking off our Gisborne visit in style.
Tomorrow, things might not be so glamorous in an activity of a different kind of fun: surfing in the morning, museuming and brewery touring in the afternoon. Join us then!
The ultimate comfort room at the Dome Cinema
Always! Get yourself reading these articles:
- 10 Must Dos In and Around Gisborne
- Hawke’s Bay – Guide for Backpackers
- 7 Free Natural Hot Springs in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!