New Zealand music festivals and summer; it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Once Christmas is over, kiwi boys and girls across the country will be packing their perfect summer outfits, discussing music and snack options, and double checking they’ve got their tickets before heading to various festival locations to bring in the New Year. Whether they’re On the road again, going on their first Roady, or just enjoying The Ride, music lovers will use this time to plan, prepare for, and analyse what will be happening over the course of their summer holiday.
Here are some insider suggestions for those looking to dilute the sometimes heady mix of New Year vino and vibes with something more soothing for the soul.
Getting to Gizzy is not an easy journey. It can be a long, hot drive so stopping for breaks is important. If you’re coming from Napier, grab an ice-cream in Nuhaka and stop at the near-by Morere Hot Springs Reserve (about 40 minutes before Gisborne). Along with a relaxing spa, you can take a 20 minute shaded bush walk through the nikau palms, get your palm read, or buy a $3 healing stone necklace. Bargain! If you’re coming from Opotiki, the Waioeka Gorge has seven stops along the way, with an historical story at each. Make sure you pull over at the Monument swimming hole—it’s a lifesaver when the East Coast sun starts cranking up.
If Gisborne’s feeling a little crowded and you’re looking for a break, pack a picnic, a good sunhat and your togs and drive around the coast to Tologa Bay and the Cooks Cove Walkway. This track goes through farm land and is easy to complete, while still being a decent workout. From the top, the surrounding water is an electric dream blue and shines so bright, and once you reach the bottom you can swim, eat and play in the beautiful Cooks Cove bay.
When you get back to the car, you’ll be ready for another swim and an icecream; luckily, both the dairy and the Tolaga Bay wharf (which is super-fun to jump off) are just around the corner.
Makaretu Scenic Reserve (Rere rock slide and the Champagne pools)
Often referred to as one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, the Rere falls are both beautiful and entertaining. They are 50 kilometres out of Gisborne, on the Wharekopae road. You’ll need a boogie board, a rubber tube or something sturdy and inflatable. This natural waterslide is for the brave; you may need to mentally project positive all day to prepare, but after you’ve been down once, you’ll be running back up to the top again and again. If you’re feeling “blasé blasé from last night’s party”, then further down the road are the more tranquil Champagne pools. These are sun-heated, naturally formed rock pools that are perfect for relaxing and swimming in.
Okitu Hill is one of the best places in Gizzy to watch the sunrise from. If you want to head away from town’s main beach, hit State Highway 35 for five minutes until you reach Okitu just past Wainui. There’s parking at the end of Moana Road. The climb to the top is sharp but short—the view is amazing, the kind that reminds you it’s a brand new day today. Over the road, the Reserve has a little track that takes you through a nice 20–30 minute walk in a bush that was developed especially to teach kiddies about bio-diversity and conservation. After that, take a ‘Wainui shower’ and cool off in the sea. This beach is best before the breeze arrives around midday.
Extend the holiday
For those that plan on making a ‘do more exercise’ resolution, why not add a few days to the trip and do the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. This takes three days, with five huts and campgrounds (complete with hot showers) along the way. While walking, you can catch up on all the New Years Eve gossip and unwind together, taking in the clean, clear, crisp scenery.
If you’re after some relaxation and a great sunbathing spot, the Anaura Bay campground is like an endless summer haze. At only $15 a night, this place is a treat. You can even bring your dog.