Napier and Hastings

This past weekend, I went on a trip with Hailey and Kristi to Hastings and Napier, which are two small cities on the East Coast of the North Island in the Hawke's Bay region. Hailey has connections through her Bible college with a church camp near Hastings, and we were able to stay there for free! We had the option to borrow a car (manual transmission, 1987 Mazda) from the camp, but one of the guys (Stanley, from Kenya) who works at the camp was able to drive us around to see all the sights. That was great because one, we had no idea how to get to what all we wanted to see, and none of us are super comfortable driving a stick shift. (I can if I absolutely have to, but I would rather not when it's someone else's car, the area is extremely hilly, and when you have to drive on the opposite side of the road.) We had a great time and a pretty cheap weekend!

We rode a bus to Hastings on Friday night and made it to Hastings around 10:00. Hastings is so adorable! We didn't spend a lot of time in the town itself, but I hope I can go back and explore  the area more someday!

Stanley picked us up at the bus stop, and then we drove the 25 kilometres to the camp. On our way, he told us a little bit about himself. (He's almost 30, grew up in Kenya, and moved to New Zealand five years ago to work at the church camp. He has seven younger brothers and sisters in Kenya that he hasn't seen since he left. I wish I could have heard even more about his story!) We got to stay in one of the guest cabins, which was pretty nice! They let us use their kitchen and eat their leftover pancakes from the camp the week before! It was so great to have connections and a local to show us around. We've decided that that is the best way to travel!

On Saturday morning, we slept-in a little to recover from a late night of girl talk and cookie dough, and after a pancake breakfast we explored the camp a little. They have all sorts of stuff like a zip-line, an obstacle course, dirt bikes, a treehouse, and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

I didn't make it very far on the slack-line.
Then, we departed for Te Mata peaks! We only did a short hike at the peak, and it was incredible! The hike was pretty tough for only being a few kilometres. (It was also tough on my shoes, too! I'm buying some actual hiking boots this weekend with my birthday money. I turn 20 in four days!! How weird is that?) The view from the top was one of a kind. From one spot, you could see the ocean, the mountains, rolling hills, and flat, green farmland. This was one of those locations I've always seen pictures of, and it was so cool to be able to see it in person! We picked a perfect day for a hike! It was warm and sunny, although it was a little windy at the top.

Warning: Picture overload ahead!

Hawke's Bay from Te Mata Peaks

I've been on the other side of these mountains! Remember the sunset picture over the lake in Taupo?

Please excuse our messy hair!

After Te Mata peaks, we went to Napier to see the ocean! Now, I've seen both coast of New Zealand, and I have to say, they are both gorgeous. We went to a lookout in Napier so we could see all of Hawke's Bay, and then we walked along the oceanfront in town. I wish I had more pictures of Napier itself. It's the art deco capital of New Zealand (or maybe the world?) and was so cute! It looked like something right out of Old Hollywood.

The next morning, we went to a waterfall before we had to catch the bus home. It was called "Shine Falls," and my New Zealand Environment professor actually showed a picture of it in class just yesterday. It took a little while to get there with all the winding mountain roads, but I'm so happy that we took the time to see it! It's one of those sights that only the locals know about, and we had the whole place to ourselves. To get to the actual hike, you had to walk through a sheep pasture with amazing these cliffs surrounding it. The waterfall itself was beautiful, and it's a popular swimming hole in the summertime. 

Stanley, Hailey, and Kristi

The water here is so clean that you can drink it right out of the stream! It was delicious!
Shine Falls
I should send these pictures in to all the brands I'm sporting:
The North Face, Macpac, Under Armour, Kavu, Sperry. 
Finally, Kristi and I boarded a double-decker bus to go back to Palmy. Haley actually stayed at the camp for a few more days to help out, and she said it was such a good experience. It was such a fun weekend and a cheap one, at that! Now, I'm neck-deep in homework, studying, and planning for a trip to the South Island. (Ahh! So excited!) Break is a little over a week away, and it seems like everything is due the Friday before. This weekend, we're staying here for a quiet weekend of studying. I'm actually quite looking forward to it!


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