Eastland -> Gisborne -> Wellington

A Dutch couple gave us a lift from the East Cape back to Te Araroa. I had a quick look at the “World’s largest Puhutukawa Tree”. Stocked up with fresh bread and drinking water we hit the road again. The highway took us up a sweat-breaking hill. Raindrops started falling and a snappy Maori loaded us into his small car. He told us about his cousins’ (and every Maori got many of them) business ideas and that they are unable to make them work, thus his decision to study business management or something like that to help them realize their Horse-trekking company, etc. He hated Pakehas (= white New Zealanders) but liked tourists (of course, we bring a lot of money to his cousins future businesses). We learned that only 20 % of the population in Eastland/this section of the coast don’t speak Maori; so more Maoris than Pakehas around here!
He dropped us in Tikitiki, where we perched under a tree to find shelter from the occasional rain till farmer Richard Fisher picked us up. Owning a lot of land around Ruatoria he offered us several options as the day was coming to an end: We could have a bed on his farm, get dropped off in Ruatoria (off the highway) or along the highway near an empty house he bought recently, where we could crash for the night if we didn’t get any further lifts. Amazing, how friendly people can be!
But then we got yet picked up by Jim and his (5yr old?) son, returning home to Tolaga Bay (where we actually wanted to get to anyway) from shoeing 10 horses around this area. He had worked with horses for many years: as a jockey [“good money, but you are constantly starving to keep your weight low enough”], hunted wild pigs in the remote wilderness on horseback for months at a time and putting on horse shoes. Now he was living with his British wife and 3 cute kids on a farm with horses, pigs, a goat, a cat, several dogs and puppies (so cute!). Jim first drove us to the beach but then invited us to camp on his paddock and go for a horse ride the next morning. So we pitched our tent in the pig paddock near this old bus where a friend of Jim’s was currently living. Hussain is from Kenya and has lived in NZ for the last 15 years. He had just separated from his kiwi wife and tried to start a new life. We sat around a giant fire and talked into the night.

Eating breakfast and packing up evolved to quite a challenge as the pigs kept aproaching our food and managed to dig their dirty snouts into our plastic bags several times; Poncho, the big boar even managed to rip apart our muesli ziplock bag and dig into our cereal before we realized and fought it off.

Jim gave us his calmest horse to take to the start of the Cook’s Cove Walkway and a bike as he thought all his other horses might be too vicious. The bike wasn’t really neccessary as we soon found out… Cookie was a nearly 20 year old horse that could hardly be motivated to stay in a trott and we could easily walk faster than it would go. Several times on the way it refused to continue, walked backwards or even turned around! A lot of nice talking, patting and heels were required to get it to our destination where we tied it to a long rope to rest and feed while we walked to the Hole in the wall and Cook’s Cove. The lookout at the mountain top offered pretty stunning views of this amazing coast line with high cliffs, rolling hills and little coves.
With the last day light we made it back to the farm, swaping bike and horse several times. This time Cookie seemed to know that we were taking her back home - she actually kept a steady, reasonably fast pace!

We thought we could get back from Cook’s Cove and still have enough day light left to continue hitching, not so. I had a cold shower outside while Amanda cooked dinner. This time Hannah (Jim’s wife) let us stay in their sleep-out; saves us setting the tent up and even better: packing it all in the next morning.
We sat around the fire with Hussain till late again and learned about his kids and some of his interesting designs (sketches of appliances that he invented, like a mousetrap, washing machine, fitness trainer).

The next day Hannah took us to Gisborne where we booked into the MotorCamp on Waikanae Beach near the city. Shopping, laundry, shower/hairwash… and the next day had gone by. We didn’t want to afford another night at the holiday park and walked along the beach out of town till we found a suitable campspot in the bushes. The days were getting hotter and hotter and a swim in the ocean refreshed both of us enough to get going the following day which took us past Napier closer to Wellington than we had hoped for. Got a lift by a ‘public servant’ who transferred us to his son, a national surf champion with just 17. A removal truck took us from Nuhaka to Wairoa from where we got a lift with a butcher who eventually invited us to stay at his home near Takapau with the condition that he would take us to the main highway at 5 am in the morning on his way to work. We thought that would help us to get going earlier than usually. He was a really talkative man in his 50s, had like 5 children around the country from several Maori women and now he lived with a different one in a little house in the countryside. He was really proud to show us around and explain to vivid detail, how he would take sheep apart in his job at the meatworks - up to 14,000 per day, mostly by hand with very sharp knives…

We didn’t get much sleep that night, as we had arrived late and had to get up early -> 4.30 am, so we took it slowly after he dropped us on the highway. Breakfast behind some mounts of gravel, then I slept while Amanda refined her watercolour skills. Then she slept and when we put the thumb out it was already 10 am…

Made it to Wellington by around 5 pm; had a lunch break near New Plymouth and stopped for a while in Paraparaumu from where we got the train into Wellington.

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