As we left Napier, we said a fond farewell to our hosts (and life in a house) and stopped by the old port of Ahuriri. We had our sandwiches whilst watching some very territorial seagulls jostling for prime position. Thankfully the seagulls here are positively polite and will wait patiently for a morsel of lunch - a welcome change from the onslaught of arial attacks of their absolutely massive British counterparts.
There's a shed-load of interesting graffiti around the port which we had seen whilst cycling a few days earlier, so we went to get a better
look at some of the urban artwork. It seems that the attitude to street art is somewhat different to at home - it's not seen as mindless vandalism and I'm quietly confident no-one would be caught spraying "Jonny woz 'ere 2k16" over a Banksy original. After our impromptu tour, we watched the boats return to port whilst enjoying an extravagant hot chocolate, with the weather taking its daily turn. We then headed to the Mahia Peninsula, arriving at 6pm - in the dark...
Waking up in Mahia, we were taken by the sun rising over the cliffs across the bay. After a slow-motion morning and a spot of football, we decided to walk the small distance to the adjacent town. Turns out - it's bloody miles away! We had a great time strolling along the beach in the sunshine but things took a rather dark turn when we spotted a number of dead ducks on the ground. It's duck-hunting season here and it looks like someone had just driven their car onto the beach to dump their kill - disgusting! We carried on past the miniature horror-scene and stopped at the Sunrise Tavern for a beer. Interestingly, one of the Tui beers available was called Rocket Fuel and when we asked why, we were told that there is a rocket testing facility at the end of the peninsula! In fact, there had been a launch earlier that week (some things do pass you by when you live in a van). We eventually decided to brave the long walk home, guided only by the southern cross which has eluded us until now. We've spent many a night guessing which random cluster of stars it could be,
turns out it's pretty obvious once you've seen it! We still don't fully understand how to navigate using nothing but celestial bodies but it was pretty easy this time around.
The next day, we explored Mahia in the van. There's plenty of unsealed gravel road here, so there were some hairy moments on the way, but my god, this place is beautiful! Naturally, the only other car we passed was a huge 4x4 that must have thought we were lost. "Not all those that wander" and other such cliches...
It's essentially a compilation of the most pristine bays and mountain vistas, broken up by the occasional - "Do not enter, hazardous rocket-testing site ahead" sign, and some sheep... Standard.
We visited the beach next to the river estuary on the way back to our site for the night. We saw some fish jumping in the water, I wrote something weird in the sand and Jane gave me a disapproving look.
We really enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of the peninsula but there's not a great deal around in terms of traditional civilization. A local described the area as "like the 1970s, but that's how we like it". The weather was sadly due to get worse so we made the call to go to the much more populated Gisborne. I'm becoming quite aware that this blog could be called simply "British man talks about the weather". That must be a Rochdale Herald article...