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 Māori 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 Māori 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.