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East Coast Holiday: Gisborne

IMG 2557Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Waiting for sunrise at Wainui Beach

We had an early start this morning to catch the low tide and a walk out onto a reef to feed some stingrays with Dive Tatapouri. Actually before that, the previous day, we had actually done not a lot due to inclement weather. It had also been my birthday and we did things like go to the movies, a nice relaxing day in the end.

Back to the day after! We were due at the Dive Tatapouri location shortly after sunrise, so I convinced Keryn we should get up extra early to see the sunrise. We drove as close as we could get to Wainui beach and Keryn stayed warm in the car while I waited for the sunrise. The sun rose, I took some photos and then we left.

IMG 2568Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Here comes the sun

So, stingrays. At Tatpouri there is a reef that is home to a large population of short tailed stingrays and eagle rays. At low tide it’s possible to walk out and feed the beasties. It was a quite relaxed affair, we arrived and there was already another couple there along with the man who was to be our guide and an English chap already out on the reef creating a burley trail to attract the rays.

However, someone got their tides wrong and we headed out slowly wearing our provided waders. The water was quite high, and at dips in the reef we were in water up to our waist. With waves we had to keep a good eye out to jump at the appropriate times to ensure we stayed dry. Earlier we had been coached in keeping a good steady line for blocking approaching rays, to assist we each had a solid stick to help in keeping the rays from getting closer than was comfortable.

IMG 0462Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Hopeful in high water

In the end we briefly saw two rays, but the high water and steady swell kept the visibility low. We saw a lot more of two king fish that have learned to track the tourists for the constant bait feeding they get. It wasn’t ideal, and it was nice of the owner to let us know that we could come back again for free if we wanted.

Leaving Tatpouri our next stop was miles away on the far side of Gisborne. Eastwoodhill Arboretum was established 100 years ago by William Douglas Cook, the centenary is April this year. A century of planting has created a large area of beautiful and varied vegetation with well established paths for those looking for a nice walk.

IMG 2572Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A large Redwood

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A wasp hiding in the flower of a lily

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A spider spinning

We walked one of the longer paths, looking at the signs that introduced us to a variety of plants big and small. It was a nice summers day and the cicadas were out in force, we found some trees covered in dozens of shed cicada skins.

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One of the many cicada cases

IMG 0476Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The jigsaw pattern in the sky

IMG 2710Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Lots of flowers were seen

It was a nice day with few people around and the visit was good. We ate lunch outside the visitor centre and then set off. Further along the road were two more attractions I wanted to have a look at and first up was the Rere Waterfall.

We reached the waterfall car park soon enough and had a little walk to get closer. There was a bunch of guys lazing in the sun, obviously having had a swim. The water didn’t look that nice really, it was clear but that browny colour you get from rivers flowing through farmland and the enriched runoff was causing slimy looking algae to grow on the rocks passed over by the river flow. The waterfall itself was impressive and there was a daredevil path that went behind the falling screen of water, but we didn’t enter, just watched the water.

IMG 2737Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The Rere Waterfall

Some more driving and we came to our final destination on this road, the Rere Rock Slide. Rather than a collection of boulders this was a natural ramp in the river, a good fifty meters of rock that the river slides down and which provides a perfect water slide. We sat of a handy branch and watched as a number of people tackled the slide, those on boogie boards getting up good speed and those on rubber tubes taking a more leisurely ride.

IMG 2762Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Racing down the Rere Rock Slide

We decided to take up the morning offer of a repeat stingray feeding and headed back out to Tatpouri, we covered a few miles today. The group was larger second time around, in addition to ourselves and another couple of tourists there was also a group of girls taking time out from a 21st party to feed the rays. It was quite comical seeing these young ladies (I’m getting old) all pretty with their party dresses clambering into waders and then trooping down to the beach.

The walk was much better timed and the water was very low, mostly ankle height. We walked out much further on the reef and were treated to a nearly constant visitation of rays. One of the stingrays in particular was quite large, a meter and a half or more wing tip to wing tip and appearing like a black hole sliding towards us. We all got to feed and pet the rays and a couple of the guys also dangled food for the attendant king fish, one getting a nice graze when he didn’t move his hand away fast enough. Our second encounter was much more satisfying.

IMG 0481Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Patting a ray

IMG 0486Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Waiting to feed

IMG 0497Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A much more appropriate water level

We had dinner from a viewpoint looking over the beach and Gisborne, it had been a good day.

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