Tauranga To Gisborne For Friends, Family, Food And Wine

As people in the UK prepare for Lockdown2, and those in the USA watch horrified, here in New Zealand we’re still celebrating and thankful for Jacinda’s outstanding victory. Thank goodness there are more than enough kiwis who feel similarly. Her announcement this week of a strategic and intelligently thought-out appointment of Cabinet Ministers, comprising almost 50% female, plus the first indigenous female Nanaia Mahuta, further reassured me this country is on the right track. Kiri Allen, the Gisborne Labour candidate we voted for, is now Minister of Conservation, Minister for Emergency Management, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and Associate Minister for the Environment. How amazing.

Many older, white, male members have been swept from power, including some who had been there for 30 years”


At least one country in the world at the moment has seen sense. Go, Jacinda, you inspiring warrior woman. I’m so incredibly thankful that I ‘chose’ this amazing country nineteen years ago.

Enjoying Some Space in Tauranga

Yeah, I know. I’m so behind with keeping you up to date! In order to save me thinking I need to spin any more plates than I have to, I’m condensing the past few weeks into one post. A shortened version of our recent reality just for you.

On the weekend of 17th and 18th October, we had a change of scenery and slept in a house for three nights. It was rather enjoyable to have space again; along with a flushing toilet, unlimited hot water for showering, the use of a washing machine and outside dryer. Not that we feel we’re ‘suffering’ living in NZAreandare, just that we appreciate ‘luxuries’ more. Similar to living in NBAreandare, I guess.

We stayed with Lee and Maria, who recently moved up from Blenheim (top of the south island) after living there for around 15 years. Barry and Lee partied together with a few other blokes in a house on Derby Street in Gisborne, where notorious/infamous (seriously!) night-life took place in the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. I’ve heard a vast collection of stories about those days, from Barry and many of his friends. I doubt I’ve heard all the gory details. He and Lee have been best buddies ever since – so much so that Lee and Maria’s son is called Liam Barry – after ‘Lee and Barry’!

Lee and Maria came to stay on NBAreandare for a week in 2017 when we travelled from Chester to Birmingham. This time we enjoyed a fun weekend with them; having a BBQ, walking around a local waterpark, a meal on the waterfront in Tauranga, and watching the All Blacks thrash the Wallabies in The Bledisloe Cup on Sunday afternoon.

We also got to catch up with Therese and Roger, who have an incredible place with stunning views across Welcome Bay. They came to see us on Areandare for a day I believe three years ago, when we went to The Crooked House pub in Dudley, the Black Country.

Many More Fabulous Friends In ‘The Bay’

After Lee and Maria, we headed to Jan and Cliff’s at a place called Pyes Pa. Another stunning setting. This time we slept in the campervan on their drive, after enjoying an evening catching up with them, and Josh – who stayed with us on the boat in 2015.

The following day we drove to Fiona and Hayden’s, who relocated from Wellington last December, buying a gorgeous place in the outskirts of Bethlehem. Yes, it’s really called that! In 2013, when I was driving up and down to Auckland regularly during my Holistic Life Coaching training, I purposely stopped there to post Christmas cards. I’m not sure anyone in the UK noticed the postmark, but I thought it was quaint. Fiona worked for Barry when he had his photography studio in Gisborne.

In between overnighters, we popped to Papamoa, a sprawling conurbation of homes stretching for miles from Mount Manganui. Neither of us had been there before; we’d only driven past. Our first visit was a comedic coffee stop with Bonnie, a magnificent retired midwife I worked with at Gisborne. I’d forgotten how witty and wonder-full she is. It was an absolute delight to be in her company again.

Veronica and John also live in Pāpāmoa, and we had coffee with them the following morning. I worked with Veronica in the UK when we were midwives at Good Hope in Sutton Coldfield. They emigrated to NZ years ago, after their eldest daughter moved here; their other two daughters followed. How fabulous. This amazing couple was so kind to me in my alone times in NZ, and we’ve shared many special moments. All three friends were at our beach wedding in December 2009.

There are so many people we love here! There’s plenty back in the UK too of course – we feel incredibly blessed to be able to keep in touch in each hemisphere.

More Free Camping

On our journey back to Gisborne we stayed at another fabulous free camp spot at Ohiwa Harbour, before heading through the spectacular Waioeka Gorge.

Sitting Still In Gizzy

It’s interesting how differently kiwis think of Gisborne, affectionately known by loving locals as ‘Gizzy’. To me, it’s a paradisical place having lived for the first 42 years of my life in cities. To Barry, however, the east coast beaches trigger memories of work rather than fun or relaxation – of countless weddings and family portraits. A couple we met at Gulf Harbour shuddered when we mentioned the city, stating they’d never come here to visit never mind to live, due to the “high crime rate“. I soon put her straight! I don’t know the actual statistics, but I sure feel far safer in Gisborne than anywhere in Auckland. After our conversation, she said she might need to visit sometime.

We spent our first night catching up with Barry’s brother, Ray, and retrieving the rest of our belongings we’d left there. Barry needs to build some shelving in the campervan to store it all. Considering we arrived with one suitcase each and a hand luggage bag, it’s mind-boggling how it multiplies.

Gisborne is the first city to see the sun each day and is also known as the Chardonnay capital of NZ. The area enjoys abundant all year sunshine, around 80% of the time I believe. Additionally, it boasts a series of gorgeous golden sand beaches and world-class surfing.

Our first night back in town we chose the NZMCA camp at Waikanae. Little did we know that our friends Kerry and Tony had parked up opposite us in their caravan! The camp is minutes away from the beach, but unfortunately rather close to a road with a constant stream of large logging trucks, so it’s definitely not noise-free.

Indulging In Wine And Food

In June, I bought tickets for the Gisborne First Light Wine and Food Festival, when there were only 50% remaining. By July they were sold out. I’m guessing they capped the numbers in the light of the current climate. Happily, we don’t have to wear masks anywhere in New Zealand currently, but we could’ve brought one along to wear on the buses taking us between venues if we chose. No one we saw did.

We parked up for two nights at the Gisborne ‘Cosmopolitan Club’, for $10 a night. It sure wasn’t the most scenic camp spot we’ve had – but it was close to the bus stop to get us to and from the wineries.

Sadly the 2020 Food and Wine was quite a disappointment for us, having enjoyed many magnificent ones in previous years. It was ridiculously expensive, with limited food choices, and the majority of people were in their 20s and from out of town. We did have lots of fun, of course, making the most of the sunshine and music and bumping into a few friends.

Matawhero Winery our first destination
The Bridge Winery Number 2
TW Wines – rowdy and raucous here!

We were back in the campervan by 8 pm for a quiet night in! Maybe we’re just getting too old …

More Houses And Friends

We’ve caught up with Kerry and Tony a few times recently, and more gorgeous friends Andie and Pete invited us to stay with them last week out in the country in a place called Ormond. I’ve not been that good at capturing people, apologies to those faces not ‘featured’. Andie and Pete also came to visit us on Areandare a couple of years ago – blimey how fortunate are we all to have so many lovely liaisons?

Over last weekend, we had the joy of a three-night house- sit for some other gorgeous friends. Anna and Andy stayed with us on Areandare for a week or so five years ago now. Anna and I shared an office at the Maternity Unit in Gisborne for many years, having initially met 19 years ago when I worked for four months as a Geneva Health Agency Midwife.

Being in a house with a kitchen and oven, I took the opportunity to invite Tom and Miriam for dinner and cards on Saturday evening. On Sunday I cooked a roast chicken dinner and invited Ray and my friend Deb round. How wonderful.

I walked to the splendid Saturday Farmer’s Market, but apart from the evenings and that walk, it was work, work, and more work for me! I’ve been editing our new company website. Do check it out – https://www.ad-extra.com

My client calls are either late evening or morning now, as we’re 13 hours ahead of the UK. Understandably it’s going to be interesting to see how things progress with businesses with another imminent lockdown. Many are still struggling following the first one. But people so far seem stoical and doing their best to look on the bright side.

Haere Ra Gisborne

Barry’s been helping his brother Ray to get his cafe ready to re-open after earthquake strengthening work. The big earthquake in Gisborne was in 2007, so it’s not before time. Hopefully, Verve Café will re-open on Gladstone Road for takeaway coffees on Sunday – if you’re in town go and support him.

Ray took us out for dinner on our last night, Tuesday; then, we enjoyed some brilliant music at the Poverty Bay Blues Club. The first Tuesday of the month open mike session has been going for 14 years – so it began the year Barry, and I got together 2016. What a marvellous way to end our time in Gisborne – for now.

Yesterday we headed south, for more magnificent scenery and adventures – more to come on where in the next post.

For now, here’s many more impressive images of our travels from Barry (click on the first image to transform it into a slide-show to make the most of it):

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