Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Water Slide & A Waterfall- Gisborne


From Mahia we headed north to Gisborne, the city of rivers; named for the Waimata and the Taruheru rivers which join to form the Turanganui River right in the heart of the city. The downtown area is in the middle left of this photo, fronting the Turanganui. From the city centre, the Turanganui flows just 900 metres before it enters Poverty Bay; it's totally tidal and is reputed to be the shortest river in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Oneroa Cycle Way & Boardwalk along Waikanae Beach looks very similar to Napier's Marine Parade, complete with Norfolk Pines but I'd have to say the lovely sandy beach looks a lot more inviting than the shingle beach along the Parade.

Our lovely semi-rural camp for the next 3 nights was a CAP (NZMCA costs apply park) just north of the city. We were the first in for the night but on arriving back after doing a few chores and stocking up on supplies we were pleased to see that a certain motorhome and a cute wee dog had arrived! This is what happens when you're back in the North Island, you keep bumping into rellies! 

Pam & Gerald were about to embark on a trip around the East Coast, the last time we saw them was at Tutira, since then they'd been back to home in Napier for a couple of weeks, off around the Coromandel, across to Mangakino, back home again and now they were off around the Coast. 

It's a bit like the hare and the tortoise, while they've been gallivanting here, there and everywhere, we've been slowly plodding along, leaving Tutira for Lake Waikaremoana, then onto Mahia and now to Gisborne. We had a great catch-up and a few good laughs before they left us in their dust again. I think they were home again before we'd even rounded the Cape.

Sponge Bay (I keep wanting to type Sponge Bob), a popular swimming beach and surf spot is just a short stroll from camp at the end of the road...

...but it's the access to the better break near Tuamotu Island on the other side of the lookout at Sponge Bay that is more popular for experienced surfers (Tuamotu; tua= other side or beyond, motu= island).

Before we left Gisborne there was one place I wanted to visit; David wasn't feeling too well and wasn't too keen to drive the 100km round trip on the day we'd planned to go so I headed off by myself. I wanted to visit the Rere Rockslide which is now a very popular attraction thanks to social media and the AA '101 Things to Do' list.

From the carpark the Wharekopae River looks innocuous enough. It's not until you walk to the edge to see where the water disappears that you see the rock slide; a 60 metre long slab of rock descending at a 30 degree angle into a deep murky green pool below (the colour not too dissimilar to cow poop). The rocks over time have been smoothed by the swiftly running water and are also covered in slippery lichen making it into one giant natural slide. 

I say smooth but I can see three horizontal fissures streaking across the rock face which I'm sure would add a little drama to the slippery slope, not to mention the odd lump and ragged edge.

Can you see two terrified girls waiting at the top?
As the warning sign says you need to be happy with your ability to ride the slide. It's fast and furious and you'll need to swim to the side once you reach the 4 metre deep pool at the bottom. A person has drowned here recently when they went to save a non-swimmer, and I'd say there would also be a fair amount of injuries as people tumble off their 'magic carpets' scraping the rock on the way down.

You can ride the slide with just your body (if you're one tough nut and don't mind getting knocked about a bit) but it's better to have a barrier between you and the rocks; a boogie board, inflatable mattress, yoga mat, inner tube, anything is better than nothing. People do leave behind various floating devices for others to use, there was a small collection wedged under a willow branch at the top of the slide. But don't count on it. 

There were two young female tourists waiting at the top of the slide when I arrived. They had been there awhile (according to two other ladies watching and waiting) and were trying to convince each other to go. I managed to walk to the bottom and position myself on the otherside of the pond before they plucked up enough courage to push off. 

Another tourist couple arrived soon after and the girlfriend went down on a boogie board with a go-pro camera in her mouth (they played 'paper, scissors, rock' to see who went first- some hero her boyfriend turned out to be! Big wuss!!). They then commandeered the blow-up mattress from under the willow tree and used it to slide down together numerous times....

...up-ending most times as they reached the pool.

Here a short video (amateur alert!) I took of the two groups on the slide-

I could have sat there for the rest of the day watching as more and more people arrived to try their luck. I loved seeing the apprehension on their faces as they looked over the lip or sat on the edge willing themselves to push off. And then watching the smiles and hearing the laughter as they climbed back up the slope after the first run and not hesitating on their next slides. But it was time to head for home as I had another couple of places to check out.

Just 4-5kms back down the road are the picturesque Rere Falls. I'd passed them on the way up but wanted to get to the slide before the sun disappeared off the rock face.

At five metres the Rere Falls aren't very high but they make up for that with their width. They're 20 metres wide and make for an impressive sight and sound as you pull into the carpark. It's also possible to walk behind the cascading water although the rock surface is very slippery (you might just find you have your own Rere rock slide if you're not too careful).

I decided to have a bit of  practice using my ND filter (neutral density) to capture the motion blur of the water which makes it silky smooth. The filter reduces the amount of light passing through the camera sensor without changing the colour of the scene. 

If my filter is wound out to it's maximum, it's pitch black to look through, this allows for a longer exposure in bright conditions without over-exposing the shot (but you do need to set the camera and composition for the scene before attaching the filter otherwise you can't see a thing). The shot below was exposed for 5 seconds, that's 5 seconds of continuous water flow coming over the falls. The photos aren't quite there but I was happy with the practice.

Settings- ISO100, f/22, 5sec
I'd have stopped at  the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, which is just a few more kilometres further down the road, had autumn arrived. But as I drove past I could see the mass of trees were still lovely and green. We have visited the arboretum on a previous visit to Gisborne, we missed autumn then too, it was in the middle of winter! Still it was a lovely walk up hill, down dale and around all the ponds.

Taken July 2011
We did get to see some cute lambs too (how my photography has advanced from those days)

Once I arrived back in the city I headed up Kaiti Hill to the lookout with views out over Poverty Bay and across to the white cliffs of Young Nicks Head.

There are several lookouts on the road to the top, I stopped at the others on the way down; this one overlooks Gisborne Port; I was surprise at how small the port actually is (compared with Tauranga & Napier, both of which I'd taken photos of recently) although going by the logging trucks we've passed on the road and the pile of logs at the port, it's obviously a very busy port.

There's also a statue of Captain James Cook in the reserve...well it was meant to be James Cook- click the photo to read the details.

And right beside the statue is a pohutukawa tree which was planted by Princess Diana, although the cynic in me wonders why a plaque was only put there after her death. And why she planted a tree beside a statue that isn't of James Cook. 

I stopped at one last pull in area, climbed a few steps to take a pano of Gisborne city before returning to camp (click photo to view in detail).


  1. Hi Shellie, I've seen the rock slide many times on youtube... now i know where it actually is and can add it to me list for "next time". Thankyou :)
    Lovely silky pic of the falls and loved the story of the statue! lol
    - Tim

    1. ....and post photos of your wipe-out on the 'net for us all to see too! :) It's scarier than it looks but great fun.
      I need a bit more time on my silky photos, one day I won't be in a rush andmight be able to put a few hours into it. Glad you enjoyed the blog!


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