We arrived at our accommodation just as dusk began to approach the North Island’s easternmost points, and were invited by our host to join him and several others by the fire. Minutes later, we had been generously offered an entire crayfish each and settled down to enjoy it, just metres from the shore of the beautiful bay in which the hostel is situated. Despite my fondness for crayfish, the object itself is not the matter that lingers foremost in my memories, but rather the hospitality and openness with which we were greeted.
The following day was a Sunday, and we made our way towards Gisborne via East Cape. As the rain fell on a dour morning, we parked at East Cape and discussed whether it was worth walking to the lighthouse in these weather conditions. Having decided that it was, we were almost instantly rewarded by the delightfully simple timber steps (more than 700 of them) that lead up the hill. However, a truly remarkable experience awaited us at the top, where members of a religious group were using the top of the hill as an informal venue for worship. Whilst several people intoned loud prayers in turn, one woman walked vigorously around the grassed summit of the hill with a flag bearing the Star of David, and we stood silently off to the side - taking in an experience that was far outside the normal reality of our lives.