When morning arrived, we felt much more refreshed and were rearing to go. We set off to the East Cape, which turned out to be a road that was partly paved and partly gravel. I’ve never been out to Kaena Point on the west coast of Oahu, but this is what I imagine it to be. I really thought we’d need a 4WD to get through this, but we took it slow and continued forward. We were hoping to get to the lighthouse at the end of the track.
As we bumped along at around 10 kilometers per hour, we came across the most unlikely road block (at least I thought so): a flock of sheep. As the car rolled to a stop, Alba and I looked at each other with the same question on our minds, “Now what?” And the sheep, they just stared right back at us like we were the weirdos. We decided to go for broke and cautiously moved through the cluster of fluffy clouds with legs. As we approached, the smarter sheep got out of the way immediately. Some of the bolder ones stood their ground and gave us the evil eye before finally getting a move on. Wow, who knew that sheep were so vicious?
When we finally reached the end of the road, it opened up to what looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings. Everything was green as far as we could see. There were some darker green patches made up of tall pine trees. A herd of cattle grazed calmly to one side. The quietness that cloaked the area was magical. It was as if we were the only humans in the entire world. How marvelous! Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to the lighthouse as there was no trail and it seemed like the area was private property. Still, the beauty of the place was worth the slow journey it took to get here and the equally slow journey back out.
When we finally hit the road we were starving and decided to stop in a town called Ruatoria for lunch. We made ham sandwiches and ate at a small roadside park. Like many of the other towns we’d seen so far, this one was quite small and seemed to service the surrounding farms with the bare necessities. For me, it was a real throwback to what I imagined rural America was like in the early 1900s.
We continued on to Gisborne where we filled up the gas tank for a whopping $105. Compared to all the towns we’d passed through, Gisborne was a metropolis just for having more than one main road. We headed for the local McDonald’s for an ice cream break and to use the free wifi. After comparing the distances to Wairoa and Napier and the accommodation options available at each place, we settled on the art deco town of Napier.
We continued our road trip and reached Napier around 6:30. We checked into the YHA and got some advice from the man at reception who could have been Santa Claus on vacation. His hair and beard were white and looked soft like cotton. His belly looked as jolly as a belly could be and he was definitely extremely friendly. He helped us book some more hostels and gave us some advice about local rugby games we might be able to attend. All in all, Napier was a good choice to spend the night.