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Traveling 'Round the East Cape

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 21 April 2009 | Views [1625]

After two relaxing nights back in Paraparaumu, we hit the road with few plans, just a direction: north.  

In an attempt to continue living cheaply, we made arrangements to try Couchsurfing...  Find a normal-sounding host online, e-mail, show up at their house and sleep on a couch, the floor, or any other space available.  This was appealing because with couch surfing we can stay just one night, while WWOOFing usually requires a longer commitment.

We e-mailed a couple in a small town north of Paraparaumu and made plans to stay at their house after a day trip to the art deco city of Napier, on the East coast.  From Napier we began following their written directions which didn't actually take us to their house but to a location nearby from which we were supposed to call.  We drove and drove and finally called from a pay phone (as we have no cell phone), but there was no answer.  We drove and drove some more and still couldn't make the phone call.  As it turned out we were driving in the wrong direction and were forced to turn around and go back to Napier where we finally got in touch with them by phone.  No couch surfing in the end, but we did get to camp by the ocean and have a bunny hop by (funny because it was Easter weekend).

We continued our drive around the East Cape, camping all the way.  Some campgrounds were nicer than others.  At one (not a very nice one) we had our expensive (but on sale) natural apple juice stolen from inside our chiller bag that was inside the refrigerator.  At that same campground we had a pig trot by the tent in the morning - see the 'East Cape' pictures.  The nicest campground was called Ohiwa Holiday Park and we stayed there one night.  It was right on the beach and had access to a nature walk around what is called the Ohiwa Domain.

After our night of camping in Ohiwa we met up with our WWOOF hosts, Meg and Mike.  Funny enough they lived just up the road from Ohiwa Holiday Park and our first job was to rake 7 loads of bark dust around the gardens in Ohiwa Domain, where we had just taken a walk that morning.  Working for Meg and Mike included jobs like clearing space for a garden, building a planter box, cutting steps into a steep hillside, pulling 6 ft. weeds from an even steeper hillside, and clearing trails that led to animal bait stations.  Our accommodations were the best part.  Their home doubles as a bed and breakfast, so we got to stay in the B & B part with a beautiful view of Ohiwa Harbor. 

Meg and Mike are highly involved in the Opotiki community (this is the closest town to Ohiwa Harbor).  While we were staying they had a big concert to put on in the Senior Citizens' Hall.  (Side note: Pete liked saying that being in Opotiki for a week was like living in an old folks' home, which was basically true.)  We were invited but told our tickets would be $26 each (!), but then Pete was asked to work the bar.  On Saturday night we got to the Hall early and helped set up.  We also got to join the band, The Mamuka Project, for dinner before the show started.  One band member looked startling similar to Elijah Wood, which I told him, forgetting that "The Lord of the Rings" is so popular in NZ and he gets that comparison all the time.  Anyway, the show sold out and Pete and I didn't have to pay for our tickets but did have to sit in the back row.  Turned out to be an interesting enough show that only cost us $10 in wine.

We left Meg and Mike which completed our East Cape road trip, and now we're in the middle of the north island in Taupo.  Coming back here was necessary because of the free jet boat ride we won on Halloween and couldn't use at the time.  We're also hoping to try the Tongariro Crossing which we couldn't do back in October because of the snow.  Maybe we'll get everything taken care of this time!

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