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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter road trip around East Cape

1700km in the van, alternating with sleeping in the van and motels. Actually, there were more motels in the end.

Easter was wet wet wet as the tail end of Cyclone Ita swung by. The week leading into Easter we had more rain than we'd had for months and that's when we realised the recent rust repair over the windscreen wasn't keeping the rain out. Swimming pool under the brake pedal - so we jammed silicon around the whole windscreen in the rain (yes, it aint pretty), but it worked.

Good Friday, off we went, north through the middle then across the Manawatu Gorge (tree trunks rolling in the churning Manawatu River), and through to Napier, Hastings, Gisborne, and onto the big remote area known as Eastland. Diverted to have a pleasant and rainy walk through a large arboretum. Autumn!

East Cape is the first place in the world to get the sunrise; it's also where several canoes landed in the Maori migration about 1300AD, and where Captain Cook landed in 1769. The place has NZ history by the bucket load.

Took us a couple of days to slowly drive around the coast in drizzle and sunshine, and do a couple of short walks along beaches and up to East Cape lighthouse. 700 beautifully made steps and a cup of tea from the trusty flask at the top. This is the road to the lighthouse:

And the view from the top, looking south across paddocks to Poverty Bay.

Eastland has lots of sheep, cattle, wild goats, and Australian harrier hawks hovering. There were hectares of brown fields - the end of the maize crop, and timber plantations; a marae (Maori meeting house) on every corner, some small towns, and very green hills.

Muddy seas and driftwood clogged beaches, thanks to Ita. No good for fishing.

Tokomaru Bay and the biggest pohutakawa tree in the world, over 350 years old, in the grounds of the local primary school, right on the beach. A multi-trunked beauty.

Camped right on the beach at a small camping ground looking across to the active volcano White Island in the Bay of Plenty. Mish had fun making a fire, then we jumped in the cosy van and sleeping bags after tea, with torches and LED lights, and read our books with a pounding sea soundtrack.

We had a couple of days up our sleeve as we came around the top of the cape, so kept going west and had two days playing tourist in sulphur city, Rotorua.

They've got a redwood forest in Rotorua, an experiment from about 100 years ago to see what trees would grow best for a timber industry. Radiata pine blitzed that experiment, but the redwoods have grown well and now they are part of an adventure park for bikers and runners. No milling it now.

Back home on Anzac Day, safe and sound.


  1. What a great trip! And a sulphur hot spring dip too, a good way to relax. Jude

  2. Lovely way to hang out for a while, and we had the bonus of sulphur odour in the clothes and on the skin all the way back to Wellington (and some clothes STILL have it).

  3. Ahhh lingering memories ... may they be replaced with fresher scents.