“Hey, why you headed towards Gisborne?” It’s a fair question. Gisborne is not on the tourist trail. Unless you happen to be 60+ on one of the cruise ships which makes a quick stop to show guests NZ’s biggest wharf, Gisborne is a sprawling, sleepy port town, mainly for the logging industry.
After seeing a video on Stoked for Saturday’s travel blog, Dan and I decided to make this very-out-of-our way excursion to experience nature’s waterslides in Rere, about an hour outside of the city. When two back-to-back hitches would take us directly to Gisborne, it affirmed our meandering travel whims. We stayed the night in a dark old convent turned hostel, called the Flying Nun. Yes, it is just as creepy as it sounds. Cavernous shabby rooms filled with Euro-hippies had the feel of people living there more than passing through. The next day we rented boogie boards from the iSite center (or you can buy cheap ones at the Warehouse) and luckily managed to hitch out on the lonely roads that would lead us to the Rere rockslides. Tons of fun and only marginally bruised, we hope this video captures our time there.
On our way out, we got a ride from a sweet Maori family who saw us at the rockslides. Likely sensing our naivety of Maori culture, they showed us their tribe’s Marae (meeting house) and took us up to their mountain, Titirangi, all in time to drive us back to the iSite to drop off our boards. Little did we know we’d be crossing paths again. Later that day, having difficulty catching a ride out of town, a Maori couple pulls up who said they recognized us from the rockslides. While they weren’t hitting the road, they invited us over for drinks and offered to put us up for the night. With the day almost over, why not? It being aSaturday night with their kids at their grandparents, Ra and Hoks were ready to party. Who later walks in but Otaro and his son, the father from the family that gave us a lift mere hours ago. Turns out they’re all cousins and just so happened to be hanging out this night. Funny how we got caught in this familial web. Many drinks, stories, and songs later it was close to 2am and we could no longer keep up with this crew. We went to bed having learned some new drinking games – “mushroom” and “blow” (totally innocent actually). We’re still amazed at how gracious Ra and Hoks were, cooking us food, offering their bed, and simply welcoming us into their home. We left Gisborne the next morning with new friends, reminded of the generosity of human beings.