The Beech aircraft Air New Zealand flies between Wellington and Gisborne is a scary little plane. It seats only 19 passengers with one seat each side of the aisle. Tourists only acquainted with large international jets must surely get on these babies and freak out.
Adding to the drama, at Gisborne airport the runway also runs over a railway track – surely the only airport in the world where this is the case.
Mike’s parents live at Wainui Beach and we had the best start to 2014 swimming at the beach and lazing around in the sun on the deck with the tennis and cricket on in the background.
We were also able to watch Kim Dotcom’s helicopter coming and going from The Black House up the road.
Go and spend a few summer days in #GigaTownGisborne. I recommend #TheBlackHouse. https://t.co/41inuMu6LS pic.twitter.com/Rx4r8IYn94
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) January 1, 2014
We made it to the final night of Rhythm and Vines at Waiohika Estate. Getting the bus there from Wainui Beach was really easy. We got VIP upgrades which allowed us to skip a rather massive queue to get our wristbands, though I admire their efforts in checking everyone’s ID etc prior to entry.
The VIP upgrades also allowed us to get into the Vodafone Vintage Club for a sweet view of the main stage without being stuck in a mosh pit, and to avoid long lines for drinks, food and toilets. I was also impressed with the payment system incorporated into the wristbands.
We saw Jupiter Project on the Adidas sponsored Forest Stage. Performing at the same time as popular Shapeshifter were on the main stage hey must have been disappointed with the small turnout – too small for the Adidas beachballs thrown into the crowd to be bounced around properly. The ended up being ripped open for the glowsticks inside them. Jupiter Project played largely covers and the absence of Dane Rumble was felt when they performed ‘Not Alone‘. We left after hearing the songs we knew and headed for Shapeshifter.
Kim Dotcom’s countdown to the new year was very random but the crowd were into it. The fireworks on all sides of us and the light show projected on the hills was pretty spectacular. Dotcom’s wearing a crazy vest with flashing lights on it ensuring he was seen from the very back of the crowd and his music was interspersed with mantras such as ‘Never Give Up’, ‘Good Times’ and ‘2014 is your year’ which quickly became popular Twitter Hash Tags amongst those at the event.
Rudemental took the stage shortly after midnight playing a DJ set featuring little of their own music which was what the crowd wanted to hear. It was a bit of a downer after the countdown. I later learnt that Rudemental is made up of four guys and based on the fact they were performing at London’s O2 on New Years Eve also, only half the group could have been present in Gisborne.
Wining and Dining
For our first lunch of 2014 we went to Villaggio Cafe, a cute converted Art Deco House which reminded me of my Grandparents old house in Clive. I ordered something which seemed to be a cross between a salad and eggs benedict with salmon and it was exactly what I wanted.Mike and I decided if we were to start a food blog we should only cover Eggs Benedict and Creme Brulee.
The Works is set in a strengthened brick building which was once part of a Freezing works down by the waterfront. Initial service was slow but once we’d ordered we didn’t have to wait long.Both Mike and I ordered Stone Grill’s – I had a seafood selection and Mike had a mixed grill with pork, chicken, lamb and beef. Both were served with salad and potato. While I’d have been happier if the giant prawns had arrived without their heads still attached it was otherwise a faultless meal. The hollandaise really tied the items together.
We shared a bottle of Kopiko Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (my basic wine ordering strategy is East Coast North Island for a Chardonnay and Marlborough for a Sauvignon) and a pavlova for desert which had strawberries, cream and kiwifruit and a mango sauces.
Wainui Beach Store
The Wainui Beach store was handy when we couldn’t be bothered moving far. We phoned in an order based on what was on their website (I was impressed they had a website!) – but they were out of salmon and had no fish as the supplier was closed for the holidays.We ordered $40 worth of food and the store was busy to the point of stressful when we went to collect it. The roasted winter vegetables pizza, garlic bread and paua fritters were pretty good though. Mollie the cat was particularly keen on the paua fritters.
The bubbly and personable nature of our waitress at The Wharf almost made up for the fact she didn’t entirely seem to know what she was doing. We were seated outside and set up with water and menus before a more senior waitress came over and told us the kitchen had reached capacity and we should not have been seated.
She offered to ask the kitchen nicely whether they could accommodate us as we were not prepared to stay if we couldn’t order food.It seemed as though she was setting herself up for a fail but she returned and said they could just squeeze us in. There were plenty of empty tables around and the place really didn’t look that busy.
She took our drinks order – a beer and a glass of the Milton Sauvignon Blanc.While we were still waiting for our drinks our original waitress returned with an iPad to take our order. She read the fish special so fast we had to ask her to repeat it twice more and we still weren’t entirely sure what it was.
Mike ordered the Lamb Rump which was served with Potato Mash, Caramilised Carrots, Minted Peas and Jus. I requested the fish special with no bacon, providing the waitress with a second option should that not be possible. It turned out it wasn’t – back came the more senior waitress to explain the bacon was already mixed in the potato salad we had no idea was part of the dish per the junior waitresses description.I repeated my second choice of Prawns and Scallops sauteed with Garlic, Ginger, Coriander and Egg Noodles and finished with White Wine & Passion Fruit.
Amusingly, while we were waiting for our food someone at the next table asked for the fish special with no bacon and junior waitress was able to explain that this was not possible.The Prawns and Scallops was nice enough but not amazing. I had some food envy seeing people get the Fish Special. I just don’t eat bacon.
For dessert we both wanted the Hazelnut and Mocha Creme Brulee – I love Creme Brulee and it’s great when restaurants add their own unique flavour to the dish.Not a bad place for a meal and it has a pretty sweet view on a nice evening, but I recommend booking in advance rather than winging it and hoping for a good result from the kitchen.
Things to do in Gisborne
The Odeon movie theatre has a cute, old and small town feel though it was a bit dilapidated, the seats becoming a bit uncomfortable in a three hour long movie. The cinema was also not cleaned between sessions so there were discarded Pepsi cups around us. I understand the delightful lady who served us at the ticket counter is the longtime owner, converting it into a complex from a cinema with a single screen.
A bag of popcorn at $5.30 was the same price as a chocolate and almond covered ice cream in a waffle cone but movie food is generally a rip off wherever you go.
At dusk one night we drove up to a lookout to see across Gisborne and see Young Nicks Head and the Statue of Captain Cook placed up high to ensure he could no longer be pushed off the cliff.