Travel Story | Maori Towns, First Sunrise, and a Rock Slide

by Flip Flop Wanderers

Hi guys!

It has been a REALLY long time since we have posted any travel updates on our website. This is because it’s just too hard to keep up with it! We still want to write some recaps about all our travels though, so we will still write an update about, for example, our adventures in New Zealand last year in the upcoming weeks. For now, we still post this story as we already finished this one. It’s about our travels in New Zealand, which is a year ago already! Hope you find it still interesting 🙂

Read our travel story about The Beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand!

As you could read in our previous update we had left Bay of Plenty and we were about to discover the East Cape. Many travelers will skip this part since it is easier to take a short cut straight to Gisborne, but we wouldn’t miss it of course! 

The trip along the coastline of the East Cape is about 400km long. You can find many hidden beaches and a lot of Maori culture because most of the people who live here are Maori. What it even makes better is that you have a lot of the sights all to yourself! 

Take the Long Way

We started from Ohope and made our way south towards Opotiki to visit the I-site for some info about this corner of New Zealand. Opotiki is the place where the road divides towards the east or straight south, so this is the place where the scenic road along the East Cape starts and the last big place to stock up on food and fuel. From here we visited many small villages, kicking off with Opape where you can find a great view over the coastline and a Marae that unfortunately was under construction during our visit.

The road continues winding along the coast and we passed several small towns and beaches like Torere, Hawaii, Omaio and Te Kaha. A typical sign of the Maori culture is all the beautiful woodcarvings that mark the entrances and roofs of important buildings like Maraes and schools, and we have seen many of them in this corner. 

Via a steep road down we arrived at Te Wanarua Bay. The gravel beach with some beautiful rock formations and a rope swing made this bay look great! We hopped from one bay to another and visited a cute little church close to the beach before we ended up in Waihau Bay. We had not seen many other cars around and when we decided to stay on a campground here overnight, we were the only ones here.

The next morning we continued at an easy pace, but first, we had to visit the town itself. There is a post office, a hotel, and a store and together it is the city center of Waihau Bay 😛 In front of this is a nice pier. This is also a film location from the film ‘Boy’, an old Kiwi movie. Via a gravel beach in Whangaparoa and crossed the border to the Gisborne District where our first visit was Lotin Point. We went via a bumpy gravel road down the hill towards the bay without hitting the many sheep who tried to block the road. 

For the first time, we saw more people here which surprised us because it is so remote. Again the beach was full of gravel and rocks, but the view with hills along the coast was great. We wobbled back up the hill and went to the next stop: Hicks Bay. Here you find a very old jetty, and because of its wearing you could not walk on top of it anymore, but from below it looked amazing too!

The First Light

We followed the road and arrived in a bigger small town called Te Araroa which is the easternmost town of New Zealand. There is a special tree here called the Te-Waha-O-Rerekohu tree and it is the biggest one of his kind: the Pohutukawa trees. The tree is famous for its beautiful flowers in spring.

Via a 20km drive east from here you will find a lighthouse which marks the most eastern point. The road is marked with warning signs for crossing seals and we saw some horses wandering around on the road too. Halfway is a cheap campsite, although it is mainly just a meadow and there was some kind of toilet, a really old outhouse from which the door couldn’t be closed. This way you’ll have a great view when you sit down for a good shit. We found a spot that was leveled enough to stay for the night. 

We rose early the next morning to make our way over to the lighthouse before sunset. Via 800 steps we reached the lighthouse and from here we were the first of the whole world who saw the sun rise that day.

After the sunrise, we visited a special church in Tikitiki: St Mary’s Church. From the outside it looks like a normal church, but from the inside is completely decorated in Maori style with stunning woodcarvings. It’s a result of two cultures colliding.

A bit further we found the town Waipiro Bay where we saw some old buildings that have had better times. Close to this bay is Tokomaru Bay which you can reach via a bumpy road. There is an old wharf and an old building of the New Zealand Shipping Company. It used to be an important bay for trading, but nowadays it’s not much more than some buildings that fall apart. 

Via a sandy bay in Anuara we continued to the longest jetty of New Zealand in Tolaga which is 600 meters long. We decided to stay in this town for the night. We wanted to do a hike over here, but since it was raining the next morning we skipped it and continued. We visited two more beaches: Makarori Beach and Wainui Beach.

The Coolest Rock Slides

We arrived in Gisborne where we visited the Titirangi reserve: a hill with a view over the town. At this hill is a statue from someone but nobody knows who it is. It had been bought from Italy by someone who thought it was a statue of Captain Cook, although it ain’t him 😛 Another nice visit in Gisborne is the Te Poho O Rawiri Marae and next to that there is a little park with a statue of the real Captain Cook and his assistant Young Nick, the kid that spotted New Zealand first during their expedition.

We went to the Salvo store to buy a cheap body board for 3 whole dollars. We used it the next day when we visited the Rere Rockslide, about 40km from Gisborne. It’s a slope of rocks with a waterfall on top. It is awesome to slide down there, although the water was freezing cold! Manon had a good laugh when Bram wanted to climb up again. He was to close to the waterfall and it was wet and slippery so he fell about 20 times 😛 It was even more funny when a second person wanted to climb up at the same point, even though Bram warned him to take the dry route and he started to fall around there too, it was so funny to see!

When we were finished sliding down we visited the Rere Falls, a bit further at the same river. The fall was really wide and it looked amazing. We continued to Young Nick’s head, the cliffs that young nick spotted and he yelled: Oy Captain Cookie, I see cliffs. After a look out at the Wharerate State Forest we went to a nice campsite at the Morere Springs where our East Cape Trip came to an end.

It was amazing to discover this remote area, and we barely saw any other people. Undiscovered places like this is what we love to discover! From here we went to some other amazing and undiscovered places, but more about that in our next update, which will be a more general New Zealand update!

It is not down in any map; true places never are


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