Homebound – Trip to Gisborne

On my lovely christmas holiday to NZ I visited Gisborne for three days (for the first time, I might add).

My fabulous hosts where Katy and Paulus and their two delicious sons Archie and Benny.  I could eat those children, but thats another story.  These two are artisan creative powerhouses, with furniture Katy’s medium and Painting Paulus’s.  They moved to Gisborne from Auckland and have set up home on a quarter acre block, replete with a studio to create in, an enviable garden patch, the coolest kid’s playhouse and lots of green to run around on.

Katy and I went to design school together a thousand years ago when we were bright young sparkly things, she is one of NZ’s fine furniture designers.

I liked Gisborne, its got great coastline, seriously great (and it allows freedom camping on most of its coastline = way cool).  It attracts artisans, which makes for an interesting community of people.  Produces some stellar wines.  And as my hosts described, provides a slower more old school slice of life for those that like to roll that way.  If you squint your eyes your seeing a NZ way of life from the 60′s/70′s.

Outside of eating beautiful food, playing with the kids and lazing around I got to check out the lush Tiromoana gardens (thanks to their generous owner/ host Jack Richards), the Dome Cinema (where Katy’s work is hanging in all its red splendour), the next door – Staple Furniture and Design store and we enjoyed a vino at the Wine Centre.

Oh and one of the treats of the trip was sleeping in the KW caravan, you’ll see a photo below.  Its an awesome wee caravan that Katy redesigned, read here – ‘In 2003 she took the Katy Wallace Caravan Project on the road. Wallace redesigned a classic 1966 Lilliput caravan and toured the North Island, parking outside museums so people could have a look. She transformed the caravan’s shell by changing the original dull stripes to a blue dimpled cover. The interior had retro formica kitchen fittings and a kitchen cupboard covered in wetsuit material’. – NZ Herald 2006 Article

It was lovely to see old friends and be showered in their hosting generosity.  And it was a treat to visit a new place and get a tour from a local – always the best way to check out a new spot I reckon.

Heres some pic’s…

first swim for the year

my lovely bedroom

the food I got to eat was a treat

The view from Tiromoana Gardens

Tiromoana Gardens

Tiromoana Gardens

Ribbon Chandelier – Dome Theatre.  By Katy Wallace

view from my hosts dining room window (my fave photo of the holiday)

farewelling Gisborne on the plane

Homebound – Northland and the Bay of Islands Trip

Oh how I love Northland.

It’s the region perched at the top of the North Island of New Zealand and it has a different feel to it up there, alot slower.  Interesting fact – no matter where you are in the region you’re never more than 40 kms from the coast, and where talking some seriously stunning beaches, coves and harbours.  It has greenery on masse, soft rolling hills, glorious bays, awesome seafood, the highest ratio of artists per capita in NZ, history aplenty (think NZ’s first capital and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, to name a few significant historical happenings) and a strong Maori population. Nice mix.  And it’s also an interesting mix, for in amongst all this culture and beauty and history  you will come across some rural townships a shadow of there fine former selves.  For alot of the smaller towns industry has moved on leaving behind communities in the midst of reinvention or doing the best they can.

I remember the first time I travelled there,  I felt different……more grounded, connected.

The abundance of accessibility to maori culture also makes this region an absolute delight.  Whether you partake in cultural tourist activities or drive by carvings and meeting houses (in situ) or local communities going about their business – you’ll feel it.

After christmas ma and I spent three days being charmed by Northland and the Bay of Islands (we explored just a wee slice of the region).  We stayed in Russell (which was the first capital of NZ) a gorgeous little town nestled in a stunning cluster of bays and islands.  The coast line in this part of the world is seriously beautiful.

From our base we visited and travelled through (in no particular order) Russell, Opua (the gateway to the Bay of Islands), Paihia, Waitangi, Keri Keri, Kawakawa, Moerewa, Ngawha Springs, Kaikohe, Rawene, Opononi – Hokianga Harbour.  It was so easy to drive around, heres a few pics of the trip.

There were many highlights;

eating the best fish and chips in the car at Paihia

the mud pool baths in Ngawha Springs (both hot and cold pools)

checking out the famous Frederick Hundertwasser’s toilets in Kawakawa

dinner at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell – perfect meal and setting

visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - awesome

taking the car ferry from Opua to Russell – fun

lunch at the Boatshed cafe in Rawene

eating a passionfruit icecream in Hokianga Harbour

experiencing a mirimiri session – traditional maori healing, Paihia

Kawakawa – Toilets created by Frederick Hundertwasser’s = no straight lines.

seafood chowder and fish and chips at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell

View from the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, musician included. Perfect location.

Moi enjoying the muddy delights at Ngawha Pools

Ngawha Pools – Old school prices

Carving, Te Whare Runanga – Meeting house at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

hokianga harbour – sand dunes

Old Maori trading canoe, Rawene

homebound nz holiday

Over christmas I spent two weeks at home in New Zealand.

Two glorious weeks spent napping, reading a copious amount of magazines, spending time with family, forgetting what day it is, catching up with old friends, eating glorious food………..and lest I forget travelling around some lush North Island countryside, think Bay of Islands and Gisborne.

I reconnected to my love of the country and the lifestyle, which after a ten year hiatus of living abroad (with only short trips home) was a lovely reunion.  Dropping back into shared history with people was comforting and treading homeland soil definitely had restorative powers.  The trip was the perfect way for me to close a year (that needed closing) and ease myself into the rolling twelve months of 2012.

In upcoming posts there’ll be pictures and stories on some of the lovely spots I got to rummage around in.

trip highlights

eating and napping

travelling around Northland with mum

new years day swim, Gisborne

being covered in mud – Ngawha Pools, Northland

hanging out with family

visiting Te Whare Runanga – Maori meeting house at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

checking out the newly re-birthed Auckland Art Gallery

hanging out with old friends

experiencing a mirimiri session – traditional maori healing, Paihia

squeezing in a last minute trip to Leigh Sawmill Cafe

finally buying a pot from Morris and James (for ma)

eating Kumara

being closer to my culture