This week’s adventure was a great escape to Hastings in Hawke’s Bay. The area is known for its multitude of vineyards and nearby Napier is a beautiful coastal city with a pebble beach that we got to enjoy for a bit. For the second weekend in a row, it was just Hailey, Diana, and I (we stayed in last weekend) along with our new friend Stanley who kindly let us stay at a children’s camp for FREE and chauffeured us around. Hailey had connections with Stanley through a bible school that she went to back home and he went to here in New Zealand. Because of Stanley’s generosity, this weekend was quite cheap compared to most which is exactly what I need as I’m saving up for my big 2 week trip in a few weeks!
Friday: Our bus didn’t leave Palmy till 7:15pm because Hailey and I have a late class from 4-6 which by the way is such an unfortunate time to have a class on a Friday especially when you plan on traveling most weekends. To give things an even later start, our bus was 40 minutes late leaving so we didn’t get in to Hastings till about 10:00. We were impressed by how cute and lit up the city centre was and spent a few minutes checking it out, playing in the train tracks and climbing on statues of sheep!
We didn’t really know who to look for since none of us knew what Stanley or his car looked like but I guess we were pretty recognizable as 3 girls standing in the street late at night with big hiking bags. The drive to the camp was beautiful! Even though we couldn’t see any of the landmarks around us well, the stars were enough for me. I thought the stars were beautiful at home, but they’re at a whole new level here! I’ve never been able to see the Milky Way so clearly and vibrantly. The new iphone should have a star setting so that I can actually take beautiful pictures of a star-filled sky.
When we got to the camp, Stanley showed us around a little and helped us get settled in. I was expecting to stay in a basic cabin with no heat as I always associate camp cabins with the ones at Camp Shiloh but we actually stayed in something more like a cottage with a little heater. I somehow had a lot of energy still so we stayed up for a while talking and eating some cookie dough that Hailey brought for us! We may have an obsession… After getting our sweet tooth fix, we settled down and finally got to bed.
Saturday: The morning thankfully didn’t start out too early. I didn’t come the most prepared with food but we were able to eat some leftover pancakes they had from a recent camp which really hit the spot! The camp also happens to be ranch so there were lots of sheep, of course. They have two lambs whose mothers died and have to be bottle fed now so Stanley let us feed them. One of them was going crazy, eating like it never has before but the other was more timid and we had a hard time feeding it. We were then showed around the camp and got to try out their awesome zipline and ropes course! Better yet, the sheep just casually wander around the ropes course area.
At first, we weren’t sure if Stanley was going to come with us to the places we wanted to check out or if he was just going to let us borrow his car but thankfully he came with us because none of us know how to drive stick shift. Although I want to learn how to drive a manual, it’s probably not best to learn that and how to drive on the opposite side of the road at the same time… too much to take in for a driving experience! He was also handy to have around because he knew what things were worth checking out and knew how get to those places.
Our first stop was Te Mata peaks. The trail head for the hike said it would take an hour but really only took about half that time. This hike was different than the ones I’ve done so far in that it wasn’t mountains necessarily but peaking green hills. One thing I love about New Zealand is how diverse the terrain is so I never get bored with the same type of hikes all the time. The view from the peak was incredible! I could see the ocean and a few mountain ranges, including the snowy mountains that bordered Lake Taupo (from Adventure 1) which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive away. Being up there made me realize how small New Zealand really is which also makes it great because it’s relatively easy to travel around but still experience incredible diversity.
After the hike we did what our main purpose in the trip was… wine tasting! We went to Black Barn Vineyards for some FREE samplings. I’m not much of a wine snob as I’m just starting to actually enjoy it but they were all quite tasty, especially the Riesling. I ended up buying the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay to bring home which is their most awarded wine they make. Plus they said they mostly sell their wines locally so I figured I would pick up some great wine while I could! I would have liked to go to more vineyards in the area since they’re literally everywhere but I don’t think the whole group was into it as much and we moved on to bigger and better things.
As Stanley was the expert of the area, he brought us to the spots he thought was best in Napier. We first went to the Bluff Hill lookout. It’s a big rock formation that sticks out in the ocean, giving views of the city, ocean and mountains!
We then went back into Napier to walk along the stony beach. I ended up getting my pants and the inside of my boots soaking wet trying to get pictures but it was worth it. The stones were soft and round so it wouldn’t be painful to walk barefoot down the beach, if anything like a nice foot massage.
Dinner that night was a little slim since I just had an instant rice packet (college life is all about the “instant” foods) and snacky foods. Of course with my big stomach, I was still hungry and ate my second instant rice. After some debate, we decided to drive back to Napier that night to go to the hot spring pools by the beach. They were actually man made pools unlike the natural springs in Rotorua but the hot water was straight from natural springs. It was $10 admission but totally worth it! There’s nothing more relaxing after a busy day than chilling in some hot tubs and the steam room. To end the night even better, we watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (a great classic comedy) and attempted the bake some cookies… we had difficulties baking last weekend too.
Sunday: Usually Stanley plays drums at his church but figured we would want to do some more sight-seeing so he got a replacement and brought us to Shine Falls. This was a less common (but still amazing) attraction that was way out in the middle of nowhere but was great because we were the only people there the whole time. The beginning of the trail wasn’t actually a trail at all but a sheep pasture. Being how dumb they’re known to be, sheep are amazing how they can keep balance on steep, rocky slopes and even more run up them!
It only took about 30 minutes to actually get to the falls and I was immediately amazed by how they just showed up out of nowhere. The falls were pretty high and had a perfect swimming hole at the bottom that I would love to revisit later when it’s warmer and I’m prepared for it. I tried climbing around to get closer to the falls but the rocks were so slippery it was hard to get anywhere.
The creek coming from the falls was really clean and clear so Hailey and I filled our water bottles in the creek and actually tasted better than regular drinking water.
Unfortunately, Diana and I’s bus left at 2:30 so we couldn’t stay too long since we wanted to get something good to eat in Hastings before heading out. We ended up going to a little Fiji curry shop (I LOVE curry) which of course was delicious!
It was yet that time of the weekend again when reality starts to kick back in and I have to lower the adventure level for a bit. These next couple weeks are going to be pretty crazy as “midterms” are coming… yes, I do actually do schoolwork here. Hopefully soon I will be able to post more about what it’s actually like living and studying in New Zealand, granted I find time for it.