Researching tomorrow nights lodging I was drawn to Ohope Beach in the Bay of Plenty. We wanted to ride up to and around the cape…the long way round! I emailed a Maori couple that had a small cottage detached from their house, kinda like a homestay B&B. The cottage was available and they were excited for our arrival. Miria and Taroi invited us to Maori ANZAC celebration if we arrived in time.
Today is ANZAC day, Australia New Zealand Army Corps. A day to honor New Zealand and Australian servicemen and women. Similar to the U.S. Memorial Day. Kev and I bought our Poppies (symbol of remembrance) in Wellington the Friday before. The remembrance is a heart warming weeklong recognition to the Battle of Gallipoli. I pinned my poppie on the outside of my jacket but soon lost it in the wind. We rode out of Gisborne at 8am this morning…today's ride is will be long and we need to allow enough time to make it to Ohope Beach in the Bay of Plenty before 4pm.
Many feathered friends graced our air space today, or maybe I should say us theirs!! Some a little too close for comfort! For some reason my helmet attracts birds!! Poof…birds appear in front of me, they do their freaky "Oh Shoot" thing and disappear just as fast as they appeared. I had 2 smaller yellow canary type birds come straight at my visor today and I had to duck…not he feathered type duck, the movement type…ha ha ha…(Brent that was for you!) I call these birds Kamakaze Birds, and they were on the war path today along with 5 or so hawks and 1 peacock. Too much fun!
The long way round was truly spectacular especially so when we rode into first view of Whakaari, White Island the active volcano 50km offshore from Whakatane. We had to pull over and just take a few minutes, raise our visors and soak it up! Steam clouds could be seen rising from the island… This place is just unbelievable! Oh no another language lesson; "Wh" is pronounced as a "F"…always learning :)
If you pulled over at all the sweet spots you would never ride more than a couple of k's at a time!! You want to ride into the fields, when you see access, cross a river, and take off down one of those many mystery dirt roads! I'm saying that It takes a lot of discipline to stay on track. There was this one particular spot…"Sweet As"…ha ha ha. My knees buckled, well they are already buckled from being on the bike for 5 1/2 hours so far…ha ha ha. I pulled off and Kev followed! It was a great place and Kev wanted to take the bikes right down onto the shore for the ultimate photo opp! Cool Kev, go for it…looks good! The shore was covered with smooth palm sized stones and looked solid…Ahh NO. The bike sank into the stony ridge like it was mud…Wholly Smokes Batman! Needless to say we spent the next 45 minutes trying to get the bike back onto solid ground!! So moral to this is, if it looks solid, it probably isn't…test everything!…But as always it makes a good story, and a great laugh after you survive it!!!
We rounded the corner into Ohope Beach and the vanilla feather duster plants were pink! They looked like fairy floss/cotton candy plants… I do not know if this was natural, or if the dusters were sprayed pink!
Miria and Taroi greeted us to Moanarua Beach Cottage with beautiful warm smiles… we clocked just under 7 hours of riding time today! We unloaded, showered and changed into "normal clothing"…ahh! Although tired, we are excited to attend a special Maori ANZAC memorial/tribute at the Mataatua Wharenui.
Kev and I felt very welcomed as Miria introduced us to everyone she possibly could. "This is Kevin and Cat and they just arrived on their motorcycles from Gisborne today, they went the long way and when they rode up they had cameras on their heads"…."Oh, Oh" people would say… funny! I must say that we look kinda like telatubbies or aliens with the square go pros mounted on our helmets!
The event that evening at the Mataatua Wharenui in Whakatane I have to say, bordered on a spiritual experience. This Mataatua Wharenui is truly extraordinary. Supurbly carved and decorated this house has returned to its people after 136 years of traveling the globe! We were directed to sit in the front row, directly facing the concert activities… it was so emotional, dramatic and powerful, even though most of the conversation was in Maori! Feeling very honored and privileged to be invited we could not believe it when Mr Te Kei Merito recognized us and thanked for attending the Concert Program. It did not end there…after the event was over we were invited to enjoy a light meal, drinks and great conversation…an truly amazing evening!
That night the sky opened up…it poured and poured and we awoke to an amazingly warm and sunny morning. Miria and I headed across the street for a morning boogie board and swim…crazy amazing, I could really get use to this! Kev and I have decided to stay another night with Miria and Taroi and soak it all in! We made the morning news on Maori radio…ha ha ha…go figure! At Ohope Beach you can experience a sunrise and sunset on the ocean without leaving the coast…yeah, crazy amazing!