Ex­plor­ing the East Coast

New Zealand's East Coast is the place to be this sum­mer.

Go Travel New Zealand - - Eastland -

The East Coast of New Zealand is the place to be this sum­mer, boun­ti­ful with at­trac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from fam­ily fun, surf, beaches, swim­ming, cy­cle ways, bush walks, tramp­ing, hunt­ing and shing to abun­dant lo­cal pro­duce, seafood, craft beer, cider, ne wine and the coun­try’s largest New Year’s Eve fes­ti­val.

State High­way 35 around the East Coast of the North Is­land is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives, and Opotiki, a pretty lit­tle town, is the north­ern gate­way to the East Cape. The jewel in Opotiki’s crown is the Motu Trails, heaven for cy­cle en­thu­si­asts. Of the trails, the Pak­ihi Track, a stun­ningly beau­ti­ful moun­tain bike trail, is not for the faint-hearted while the Dunes Trail starts at the cen­tre of Opotiki and is a gen­tle ride along the coast line and great to do with chil­dren.

The drive up the north side from Opotiki to the East Cape hugs the coast­line most of the way, pass­ing beaches and coves that are starkly beau­ti­ful with their black, al­most vol­canic rocky in­lets and na­tive bush grow­ing with wild aban­don. When you reach the most east­ern point of New Zealand and start head­ing south to­wards Gis­borne, the road takes you in­land and the land­scape trans­forms into lush, rolling high coun­try farms.

Perched above a sharp hair­pin bend in Tik­i­tiki, just north of Ru­a­to­ria, is St Mary’s Tik­i­tiki Church. This is most de nitely one of the icons of the en­tire East Cape jour­ney. Built in 1924 as a trib­ute to those who fell in WWI, it is a stun­ning ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when two cul­tures are mar­ried to­gether in har­mony. From the stained glass win­dows to the carved al­tar and pul­pit, you will strug­gle to nd a more beau­ti­ful and true work of art any­where.

From Tik­i­tiki, the high­way fol­lows the Wa­iapu River to­wards Ru­a­to­ria, the gate­way to Mount Hiku­rangi. The sa­cred moun­tain of Ngati Porou is spe­cial as it de­mands rev­er­ence and will hold an unas­sail­able place in your mem­ory once it’s been ex­pe­ri­enced. It is said that the nal rest­ing place for Maui's waka is on Mt Hiku­rangi. Guided tours are avail­able with Ngati Porou Tourism; no one can give you the lo­cal his­tory like those who live and breathe it.

A high­light of a jour­ney around the coast is the Eco Marine Tour at Dive Tat­apouri, where the stars of the show are the gen­tle and grace­ful stingrays that you can touch, feed and also snorkel with if you wish. Dive Tat­apouri is the only place in New Zealand that you can get up close and per­sonal with stingrays in the wild.

As you travel south from Tat­apouri, the road once again hugs the coast­line and as you get closer to Gis­borne it seems that ev­ery bend in the road treats you to yet an­other stun­ning beach. Gis­borne is renowned for its six surf breaks and surfers come from across the world to make the most of the leg­endary waves. If you’re a new­comer, there are surf lessons avail­able to get your knowl­edge and con dence up to par be­fore you hit the waves. Gis­borne has a rep­u­ta­tion as a pro­ducer of ne wines and head­ing south on SH2, you have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence this at any of the lo­cal winer­ies. If you love wild places, turn o to­wards the ocean down Browns Beach road for stun­ning views of Young Nick’s Head, the rst land sighted by the crew of HMS En­deav­our when the Bri­tish rst ar­rived in Aotearoa in 1769. It is also known as Te Kuri-a-Paoa (the dog of Paoa). Paoa was the cap­tain of the Horouta waka (ca­noe) which car­ried Maori here many cen­turies be­fore. "The drive up the north side from Opotiki to the East Cape hugs the coast­line beaches and coves that are starkly beau­ti­ful with their black, al­most vol­canic rocky in­lets" Wairoa, the south­ern gate­way to East­land, is sit­u­ated on the banks of the broad Wairoa River. The Maori name means “Long wa­ter” and it is the gate­way to the wilder­ness play­grounds of Te Urew­era, the largest un­touched na­tive for­est area re­main­ing in the North Is­land, and also one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, Lake Waikare­moana. From watch­ing the sun­rise in the rst city to see the sun at the world class surf beach in Wainui to the iconic three- day event that is Rhythm and Vines, Sum­mer in East­land is not to be missed. Held at Waio­hika Es­tate from De­cem­ber 29 to Jan­uary 1, Rhythm and Vines has an eclec­tic mix of mu­si­cians that is sure to have a wide range of fes­ti­val go­ers wel­com­ing the New Year right here in the beau­ti­ful East­land re­gion.

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