“Poor gal, you are going to be a beggar…”

Mum said that to me the day before I departed for my 2nd wwoofing assignment. I retorted indignantly that it is actually “fair trade”, where I work for my accommodation and food (read what wwoofing is about here). It’s all a matter of perspectives.

One of my first glimpse of Opotiki. Racing along the Pakowhai bridge that’s part of the Motu Trails.

And so begins my wwoofing assignment at ulu, boring, quiet, small town, Opotiki. This small town is located 46km east of Whakatane (approximately 1 hour drive away). It is the easternmost town in the Bay of Plenty. Surrounded by lush countryside and beaches, the image of Opotiki can be summed as a cross between Jurassic Park and the Hobbiton (or perhaps it’s just me).

Looking across valleys with a small glimpse of the sea to the right

Bush walks are just a bit more exciting than trekking through national parks.

Prior to my trip, it certainly isn’t reassuring when a friend mentioned that there is nothing in this destination. The details gathered from guidebooks and Internet doesn’t help either. After a week, here’s what I gathered about Opotiki:

  • Population of this small town is close to 5,000 and more than half of them are Maori
  • A Maori based community usually translates to greater poverty and neighbourhoods that are less safe (all I can say is that the town centre certainly looks different from other parts of New Zealand)
  • Initial plans for the Opotiki town to become a major centre for the Bay of Plenty were abandoned due to the relatively small area of cultivable hinterland and a treacherous harbour entrance
  • It is a stopover point prior to arriving at Gisborne
  • Beautiful landscapes in Opotiki include bush forests, never ending valleys and beaches that are worth a visit

Whale Island at afar – do you see it?

Hukuwai beach 🙂

Interesting plant along the bush walk

  • Stop and visit for a couple of nights if you love nature (or need a retreat)
  • “Town Centre” consists of just a couple of streets with several old buildings (some dating back to the 1800s)

Town Centre

  • To use the toilet in the town centre, one has to pay NZD0.50 (this is the first time I paid for using the ladies in New Zealand!)
  • If you want to explore beyond the town, you really need a car/bike coz nothing of significant beauty is within walking distance
  • Beyond these, there ain’t much really.

Eleanor Roosevelt once mentioned “… To be mature you have to realize what you value most… Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”

Chasing sunset – don’t you think it looks like a heart?

Somehow, her words have struck a chord in me. I try to question myself whenever I remember constantly about the value of my decisions and actions. What’s the purpose of this wwoofing assignment? Have I gained anything of value from this experience? Was it just a waste of effort and time; a meaningless or mindless expedition? Did I fulfill what I set out to achieve?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARainbow along the Motu Trails close to the Hukuwai Beach

Despite certain gripes (no wifi, manual labour and out in the wild!), I certainly learnt a lot. I have to admit that it has been an interesting experience. Good, but not necessarily nice. Sitting here in the cosy apartment of my BFF, I can only say that I am happy to be back.

So, hello civilisation! I am back! 😀

The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. Check out http://www.opotikinz.com/ for more information on small town Opotiki, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. 

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