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Tokomaru Bay - The East Coast of Te Ika a Maui - North Island, NZ

Nya Zeeland (East Cape) 2006-02-28

Sweden had a fantastic Winter Olympics in Turin – the last of many gold medals these games was taken by the All Blacks of Sweden = Tre Kronor in ice hockey. 3 – 2 against Finland!! Nothing of this was reported in the NZ newspapers so we are glad we have internet and SMS!!

Our life at hostels is still great – we share bathrooms, toilets, kitchen with the other guests and you meet a lot of nice people. It's interesting to hear that the owners have noticed that it's more and more couples that travel and that the average year is increasing.

Anyhow, we did not know that much about the East Coast when we went from Philip and Hellen Swales in Upper Hutt, Wellington and apparently this part of NZ is not that well traveled. Except the world famous Art Deco-town Napier. We spent two nights in Napier and had a guided tour that showed a lot of the Art Deco buildings in Napier that was build the years after the terrible earthquake in February 1931. The earthquake was 7,8 and lasted for 2,5 minutes with more than 500 aftershocks. Only 4 houses left after that and the fires. "The youngest city" in the world was almost ready in Dec 1932!

A lot of very nice buildings with Art Deco details that where fascinating to watch. The guide was very good and he really caught our interest and the experts in our small group really liked this as it is one of the best Art Deco towns in the whole world. We dont know that much about Art Deco but at least we know that Art Deco is very symmetric.

We also went to Te Mata Peak - a small mountain - which we hiked to the top. Look at the photo of Te Mata Peak, it is the body of Waimarama chief Te Maa laying there. It was a very nice walk and the view over all wine yards and fruit gardens from the top was magnificent.

After Napier we headed north and East, through Gisbourne and onto Highway 35, stopped at the surf beach Wainui where we had our homemade lunch and stopped at Brian's Place in Tokomaru Bay. A small hostel for about 10 people in a small village (300 people) with a superb view over the bay where we planned to stay one night.

Well, one night became three nights and four days!! It was the best place so far during our journey! It was not because of the action – on the contrary – it was so calm, peaceful, harmonic, beautiful, relaxing and just SO NICE!!! We met some great people at the hostel, had crayfish party together, went to the pub (yes, there was one!), watched photos taken by Warren and Peter and just sat on the veranda and talked for hours and hours.

Our hosts Brian and Liz were awesome! One evening Liz had made an apple crumble and a banana cake (with ice cream) and the next day Brian had found his golf clubs from 1974 that we could use.

We went to a golf club in Te Puia Spring approx. 10 kilometer from Tokomaru Bay and went to the club house and asked if we could play a round of golf. 15 minutes later we where standing at first tee!!!!!

Eva got a brand new golf glove (she lost hers in the hard wind when we played with BOS in Wellington) from one lady in the club house and Makatita went with us after offering Eva to share her new golf set on the course, we had paid $24 NZ (18 US$) for the green fee and equipment, where part of a golf tournament and realized that life was very nice standing there with 3 friendly Maori people on that first tee!!!!
After 18 challenging holes we where back in the club house where Francis and Feffy went to the bar and bought Tui beer to the 5-ball and proposed a cheers for “another lovely day”. Very soon we realized that the prizes for the tournament would be presented after the dinner!! Dinner was included in our green fee this day as they had a special day today! Jesus, we had ordered crayfish from the friends of Brian who should deliver them newly boiled crayfishes in the evening!! Well, we just had to stay and the fantastic Maori food they had prepared and after the food we got our prizes – a bottle of NZ wine each!! It was hard to say goodbye to all the fantastic people we met – what a day!!

The evening we our NZ crayfishes and one of the bottles we won and sat on the veranda for many hours with our friends at the hostel and just enjoyed life. At 6.40 the next morning we all went up to see the magnificent sunrise over the bay.

Highway 35 is just great and it was hard not to stay longer here but eventually we headed north towards East Cape and drove the very long way to Rotorua – its approx 400 kilometer and it took us 8 hours to drive. We went to see different Marae on our way and also went out to East Cape to see East Island.

In Rotorua we will explore the volcanic activity's and the Maori culture – the first glim's of Rotorua we saw more Japanese and Korean tourists than Maori people! A report from Rotorua and Taupo will come later.

Many, many greetings from your globetrotters EvAnders.