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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Busy in "Gissy"

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 9 August 2009 | Views [1086]

After four months in the most touristed area of NZ, I find myself in Gisborne, or "Gissy" as it's often called. The eastern half of the North Island probably has the smallest concentration of tourists in the entire country. There's a very strong Maori influence here as well. 

These past 9 or 10 days I've been on the road nearly the whole time: Queenstown-Dunedin-Invercargill-Clyde-Fox Glacier-Ngatimoti-Otaki-Gisborne. A lot of thumb exercise, a lot of rides, and a great way to enjoy this magnificent country! In a few of these places I stopped for a couple of days but it feels great to be here in Gisborne. Known as Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa in Maori, Gisborne is the first largest city in the world to see a new day. It's also home to the world's easternmost "golden arches." 

I'm staying with a nice lady named Biddy. She's a CSer who signed up after her daughter Helen has had many fabulous experiences. She said "people have taken care of my daughter so I might as well do the same." Biddy lives in a nice house with several chooks and a couple of dogs, and she's had limited mobility for the past couple of months due to a chronic bronchial illness. She let me borrow a bicycle and I pedalled off into Gissy. When I called in at a health/naturophatic shop, I was greeted by a lovely lady who said she's visited Pitcairn Island. There aren't many people who have visited this remote island! I sure would love to go there. Gisborne has a rather odd layout and a river runs right through. The downtown is dominated by a massive clocktower, and just when I passed it I spotted a Maori busker with his guitar. Immediately I gave him a tip and explained that I'm a fellow busker. Gisborne is quite lovely! Here you don't see tourists in which every other has their arm in a cast like in Queenstown. Out here you see a lot of things in Maori and there's a certain degree of authenticity to this place. A lot of people tend to bypass the east coast in their haste to get to Taupo or Wellington from Rotorua. 

The following day the museum was free, so I made my way there and saw many fabulous Maori artefacts! Riding my bike around I was really enjoying Gisborne. It was nearly a year ago that I stayed on Waiheke Island, so today I gave Roberta a call. She was my WWOOF host whilst there, so I talked to her for a wee while before I rode around some more. It's been sunny the past few days. Even though Biddy isn't feeling her best we chatted for awhile whilst I helped clean her kitchen. 

After three days in Gissy I decided on taking the long way back toward Whakatane. It's an adventure out in this really remote corner of NZ. There seems to be a marae every hundred metres or so. A truckie picked me up in Tologa Bay and drove me deep into logging country! There isn't anything else around...except for the logging, it's pure beauty! New Zealand, I love you! Back in Tologa Bay I had to see how far up the coast I'd get before dark. A huge truck with a house on the back passed me. It seems that the weight of the house hanging off the back would cause it to collapse under its own weight! After another truckie picked me up, I was in the little hamlet of Te Araroa. Now it was dark! However, a man named Philip picked me up and invited me to pitch my tent at his home in Hicks Bay where he lives with his two sons. Philip has an oddity in how he makes his coffee: he likes to put the milk in the cup and then pour in the coffee. He says there's a notable difference. That wouldn't matter to me because I don't put milk in my coffee anyway. It was starting to rain but there's covering under where I pitch my tent. 

Marae and other Maori influences are found all along the road, and this is what I saw as I headed toward Whitianga the following morning. The East Cost is lovely!

Tags: culture

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