New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Bay of Plenty (Napier, Opotiki, Rotorua)

New Zealand has numerous microclimates within its regions. We quickly learned that the weather between the eastern and western sections is remarkably different, with the western side suffering from stronger winds, more rain, and a prevailing wind. The east coast boasts milder weather, more sunshine and lower rainfall. We found these generalizations to be on point when we finally made our way over to the eastern side of the north island and enjoyed spectacular weather for several weeks while visiting Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty.

First up was a week long stay in gorgeous Napier, where our dear friends Goodie and MJ call home. This seaport city is an architectural delight, boasting some of the best Art Deco’s streets in the world (perhaps rivalled only by Miami’s Art Deco historical district). In addition to phenomenal architecture, we thoroughly enjoyed stumbling upon Napier’s colorful street art. But undoubtedly, the real highlight of Napier was our reunion with Goodie/MJ and meeting baby Zane. We were given an insider’s tour to Napier with visits to Te Mata Peak (amazing views), Rush Munro’s ice cream garden (a Hawke’s Bay institution), biking out to Puketapu country pub, wine tasting at Clearview Estate & Moana Park, and hiking up to Otatara Pa (the largest and most ancient Maori pa site in Hawke’s Bay).

From Napier, we made our way down to the southern section of the north island before backtracking to Hawke’s Bay to visit the town with the longest name in the world, at a whopping 85 letters long! What a tongue twister and yet we actually met a couple people who can pronounce it perfectly!


Next up was a drive on the scenic East Cape Coastal Route, linking Gisborne to Opotiki. Highlights from this area include the Titirangi lookout on Kaiti Hill in Gisborne, Rere Falls, Tolaga Bay, St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki, and Torere School (amazing Maori carved gate).

Before swinging down to Rotorua, we visited Whakatane (Muriwai’s Cave and Mataatua – the house that came home). Then it was a few blissful days in one of our favorite sections of the north island, the geothermal gem of Rotorua. We spent a couple of days enjoying the free thermal site at Kuirau Park, Rotarua Museum, Sulphur Bay, Ohinemutu Maori Village, Wai-O-Tapu, Orakei Korako, Kerosene Creek, Mount Tarawera, and Hamurana Spring. Simply amazing.

Next up will be a visit to the Waikato region of the north island so stay tuned.

Whale mural showing ingested plastic pollution; Napier's "Sea Walls" project Mural dedicated to New Zealand’s endangered marine animals; Napier The National Tobacco Company Ltd (1932) is considered Napier's best Art Deco building Jelly fish mural by Carly Ealey Mural of a bar-tailed godwit; Napier Port Napier port mural of the critically endangered Maui's Dolphin Message in a bottle - addressing pollution in the sea; Napier street art Seal mural next to Ocean Spa on Marine Parade; Napier Rocky coastline; Napier Art Deco Dome Clock Tower. Napier was rebuilt after a devastating 1931 earthquake. It is one of the only towns in the world built entirely during the Art Deco era Paddy sculpture by Paddy's Irish Bar; Napier Clive Square bus terminal; Napier Art deco architecture on Emerson Street in downtown Napier Public Trust Office; Napier Robby by the massive "Pania of the Reef" mural. (According to Maori legend, Pania is the protector of the reef, and she lives off the coast of Napier) Becky standing by a mural dedicated to Fiordland Crested Penguins; Napier A sample of New Zealand craft beers; Behemoth Brewing Company Te Mata is the highest peak in the Napier area, offering fine 360 degree views Photo with MJ, Goodie & Zane; Te Mata Peak Zane wants a large sundae; Rush Munro's Ice Cream Garden in Hastings Zane laughing over a bottle of bubbly; Taradale Pretty sunrise from Goodie/MJ's home in Taradale Biking from Taradale to the Puketapu Pub for lunch After a tasty lunch, Robby and Goodie prepare to leave Puketapu Pub to ride over to a nearby winery Trevor giving us a generous and informative wine tasting; Moana Park Two thumbs up for Moana Park Winery! Otatara Pa, one of the best examples of a Maori hilltop fort/defensive settlement Detail of Otatara Pa View from Bluff Hill Lookout; Napier Such a cutie pie! Zane is going to grow up to be a heart breaker Even at 11 months old, Zane is already showing an interest in Tui beer Loving our stay with MJ & Goodie...thanks for hosting us in your beautiful home and being the best tour guides! Scenery as we drive towards Porangahau Robby stands next to the town with the longest name in the world. Translated to English, it means "the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as landeater, played his flute to his loved one" Porangahau Beach View on our journey from Porangahau to Waipukurau Waipatiki Beach Driving under a viaduct Wairoa lighthouse Māhia Peninsula Sunset near the Māhia Peninsula First World War memorial; Gisborne Captain Cook statue; Kaiti Hill, Gisborne Maori boat prow carving; Gisborne Rere Falls Rere Rockslide East coast view Yield to seals sign Entrance to Tolaga Bay wharf Becky on Tolaga Bay Wharf View from the wharf; Tolaga Bay 1912 New Zealand Shipping Company; Tokomaru Bay St Mary's Church; Tikitiki Pulpit supported by Maori gods; St Mary's Church in Tikitiki Interior of St Mary's Church; Tikitiki Carved Maori gate; Papatea Bay Carvings on Marae gateway at Omaio Traditional Maori carved school entrance gate, Torere School, East Cape Puriri burial tree; Hukutaia Domain Kiwi wandering sign; East Cape Coastal Route Becky standing at Muriwai's Cave; Whakatane Carving on Mataatua, a Maori meeting house in Whakatane Side panel; Mataatua maori house, Whakatane Roof detail on Mataatua Carved statue; Mataatua Kuirau Park, a geothermal public park in Rotorua Boardwalk leading over a geothermal pond; Kuirau Park Rotorua Museum Sulphur Bay, Lake Rotorua St Faith's Church; Ohinemutu Maori Village Maori carvings; Ohinemutu Maori Village Robby soaking in a hot pool at Holdens Bay Holiday Park; Rotorua Hmm, how does this work? Lady Knox Geyser; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Colorful mud pools; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Champagne Pool; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Oyster pool; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Robby getting some lizard love; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Silica terrace; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Colorful walking trail; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Devil's pool; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park Colorful Orakei Korako Geyser Field Orakei Korako Geyser Field Mud pools; Orakei Korako Highly active geothermal area of Orakei Korako Geyser Field Robby getting ready to soak in the natural hot spring of Kerosene Creek Selfie at Kerosene Creek Wallaby; Mount Tarawera Hiking colorful Mount Tarawera Gorgeous view from the top of Mount Tarawera Posing on top of Mount Tarawera Becky loving the views from Mount Tarawera. The 1886 erupton of this volcano was New Zealand's largest Colorful view while hiking out of Mount Tarawera volcano Gorgeous shades of blue at Hamurana Springs Viewing platform; Hamurana Springs Selfie at Hamurana Springs Redwood tree; Hamurana Springs Becky sitting next to "Barry, a Kiwi Bloke" sculpture in Katikati Robby and the school kids; mural in Katikati Old central motors garage mural; Katikati Lending a helping hand in Katikati foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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