Sept 12th- 16th
Our first stop today was off the high way and an hours drive down a bumpy dirt track road to see Lake Waikaremoana, the North Island's deepest lake (256 m deep), has its surface at 600 metres above sea level. We took the 30 minute return walk to 'Lou's Lookout', the walk was up steep hills covered in thick forest and hidden caves, then at the top we were provided incredible views over the huge lake and mountains. We decided on this 30 minute walk as it was our best option, however as one of New Zealand's "Great Walks", there are plenty of trails to follow some for a three- to four-day tramp which follows approximately half of the lake's circumference. Glad we went but its quite a long detour.
Lovely views along the way....
We then headed on to our stop for the night- Napier, in the Hawkes Bay Region. We had looked up our camping app and picked the 'Affordable Westshore Holiday Park' for $15 pp, only 50¢ for hot showers, kind of unlimited wifi- meant to be 200mb but it kept refreshing and extending. Had a lovely camping plot, the grounds nice, with a kids play park- which we had a go on too. The kitchen was basic but with lots of power points for charging, and was family run, all great apart from hearing the cars whiz past and planes landing near by, and what was weird was the noise of the sea, I had disturbed sleeps thinking I was on the water.
We kept ourselves busy whilst in Napier and it definitely helped that the weather was hot and sunny! We drove 20 minutes out of Napier near Hastings to Te Mata Peak which can be walked up but we were lazy and drove to the top, and were rewarded at the top with 360 degree views over Hawkes Bay. The scenery was simply stunning, hills, sheep, coastline, snowy mountains- including Tongariro which we will be climbing next week. We had time to appreciate our surroundings due to the lovely weather so we sat on the hills watching new born lambs and their mums for quite a long time, it was rather relaxing.
Then we headed to Clifton Beach at Cape Kidnappers and were planning on trekking 9km to the gannet colony at the tip of the cape, but.... we didn't think to look at the tide (I did think but Shannon dismissed it), so we embarked half way along the uneven stoney beach, climbing over fallen tree trunks and spotting the a few seals swimming around, then we decided to turn back, we also passed a couple who said the tide was coming in and said we might get stuck, I was far too fearful of the tide and also it was a tiring walk with the sun beating down and the rocks beneath us. We were happy though with what we done. The headland was named after an attempt by local Māori to abduct the servant of a member of Captain Cook's crew aboard HMS Endeavour- like a lot of things in NZ and Australia place names are named after Captain Cook.
I had read Hastings was good to see, however stopping off on a Sunday afternoon there wasn't much to do and everything was closed, we had a little wander, seen the same art deco buildings as we would see in Napier and watched a lovely pink fountain.
Like Hastings, Napier as it is now was rebuilt during the art deco era of the 1930's following a devastating earthquake. The buildings around Napier are fascinating, they look fake as it is so unnatural for us to see so many intricate, interesting and perfect looking buildings. We took a wander around, camera snapping away, we visited the park, botanic gardens and seafront. Taking a drive up the closely situated Bluffs Hill, where we were treated to views of Napier and its surrounding suburbs, Pandora and Westshore, we could also see Port Napier which had the usual site of logs in their mass- you see them on articulated trucks and in all ports like Tauranga, theres literally millions of logs! We found a good sushi called 'Sushi Club' and also a good chippy-come- fishmongers which was well- cheap as chips. We also found another 'Hogs Breath Café' (been to one in Australia) and ordered the same desert- a gigantic 'Hoggies Rocky Road Sundae' you have to get one! (described as- 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream and 4 scoops of strawberry ice cream served on a pile of warm chocolate mud cake drenched in chocolate fudge sauce, marshmallows, strawberry topping, whipped cream, toasted coconut and 2 chocolate wafers).
We ended up booking a few extra nights in Napier as we loved the feel for the place and also the campsite was really good, and the weather really helped too!