Wainui – big water, great waves
Living at Papamoa, I was interested to see Trip Advisor naming Papamoa 10thin its top 10 New
Zealand beaches for 2017. I can understand Mt Maunganui staying No. 1 – but Papamoa? Mmmm. I would have thought Waiheke’s beaches would at least be up there, considering Lonely Planet claims the island is the world’s fifth best destination.
At the risk of showing bias and letting slip the surfies’ secret – aah, Wainui? That’s Wainui, Gisborne, folks – first city of the sun; among the country’s best surf breaks and neighbour of 2017’s Te Matatini kapa haka champs, Whangara Mai Tawhiti – another beautiful beach.
Travel Highway 35 around East Cape and you’ll discover many picturesque beaches out East. I can hear screeches from Northland, Coromandel, West Coast – anywhere really. It’s just that Wainui is the one I walk the most – second to Papamoa of course.
Papamoa is 14 or so kilometres of almost straight coastline; at times difficult to walk, let alone swim. As much as I have considered trekking the six odd kilometres from Papamoa East to Kaituna Cut – somehow it never happens. Hitching a ride seems easier with any of the countless fishers puttering there on quad bikes.
If you were to compare Papamoa fishing with Wainui, Papamoa wins – crayfish and paua aside, that is. They need diving for – and I rely on family and friends for that delicacy when back in Wainui.
Maori for big water, walking Wainui is food for the soul – compulsory. Access it from any part between the landmark lighthouse relic on Tuahine Point and Wainui Surf Life Saving Club – and the walk can be as short and fast or as long and lingering as you want. Depending on chat stops with neighbours, tides and whether swimming or surfing is in order – time can disappear.
That’s not to confuse it with Okitu. Technically part of Wainui, this second tier of coastline is almost a separate beach. With the surf club as the midway point and divided by Hamanatua Stream; Wainui is a village, Okitu the highway.
Okitu’s stretch is a better ride for horses and dunes have no housing like Wainui’s beachfront fringe.
The reserve is protected – donated to the city years ago by one of its leading lights, the late Winifred Lysnar. With her father a former mayor in the early 1900s and Miss Lysnar herself known nationwide for running her famous riding holiday at northern Okitu, the name Lysnar is sealed in time; streets and reserves named after the Lysnars.
Wainui is also where 59 sperm whales famously stranded in March 1970. It sparked the name for this popular surf break; due to locals referring to the various breaks colloquially – Whales, Schools, Pines, Stock Route and so on throughout the district.
Size wise, Wainui is relatively small – bound by the sea and hills, just 7 kilometres outside Gisborne. Pockets of growth have happened – mercifully not the way housing has invaded Papamoa. Where Papamoa will increase in size to a city; Wainui will cling to its village crown for as long as possible. Debate over reticulation stops it as council harangues over what it termed recently a ‘higgledy-piggledy’ situation in this outpost. Old-time locals defend it fiercely. Size will always restrict it. Then, again, perhaps the effort it takes to reach Gizzy – either south through Waioeka Gorge or north over the Whareratas – keeps it distant.
Long may it reign. Wainui is perfect the way it is thanks. Big by name and worthy of top 10; I’m actually glad it’s not. The secret is safe.