After my long drive along the East Cape, I stopped in Gisborne, the first part of New Zealand sighted by Captain Cook's expedition in 1769. The surrounding water was named "Poverty Bay" because Cook did not obtain any of the provisions he had hoped to when the Endeavor made landfall; when they set ashore, his crew opened fire when the local men performed a traditional blood-curdling challenge. Cook's men killed six of the locals and quickly set sail and moved on to Tolaga Bay. Gisborne was not nearly as exciting for me. Now that I was heading south, the nights were starting to get quite cold, so I spent the evening keeping warm in my hostel and left in the morning for a cappuccino in a cute bookstore before continuing south along the coast to Napier. I diverted along the way to the Mahia Peninsula, to see some stunning views of the ocean, grassy hills, the sunlight, and the windy roads.
I continued my drive toward Napier and stopped near Tutiro to visit the Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve, where I walked through the cold woods beneath the sound of birdsong and the shelter of tree ferns. I saw a Kaka, Tuis, New Zealand Pigeons, and a New Zealand Robin. The New Zealand Robin was the cutest ball of feathers on tiny stick legs that I have ever seen--what a curious cartoon-like bird! I was startled at one point by a rustling in the bush and turned to see a male deer looking at me. I was terrified by its proximity to me and its antlers, but it ran away, frightened by me, too. The walk in the chilled air was refreshing.
I drove into Napier, a city rebuilt in the art deco style of 1930s streetscapes after a catastrophic earthquake--7.9 on the Richter scale--in February 1931. I spent some time walking along the streets and the waterfront, sitting in cafes, and shopping for Merino wool and possum fur sweaters. (Possums, introduced from Australia, are extremely invasive predators of native New Zealand wildlife.) Napier is the furthest south I traveled in New Zealand, and it certainly felt like winter to me.