A re­mark­able area of New Zealand

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First in the world to see the sun­rise

This was the irst part of New Zealand to be dis­cov­ered by both Maori and Euro­pean ex­plor­ers with Waka ar­riv­ing from Hawai­iki about 1,000 years ago and fol­lowed by Cap­tain Cook al­most 250 years ago. East­land is also the irst place in the world to see the new day’s light, and vis­i­tors that set their alarm to get up early will be re­warded with a sun­rise like no other. Opotiki is the north­ern gate­way to the East Cape. The jewel in Opotiki’s crown is the Motu Trails, heaven for cy­cle en­thu­si­asts. The Pak­ihi Track is a stun­ningly beau­ti­ful moun­tain bike trail that’s not for the faint hearted and The Dunes Trail start­ing at the cen­tre of Opotiki is a gen­tle ride along the coast­line. The East­land sec­tion of the Paci ic Coast High­way, State High­way 35, is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. There is an amaz­ing con­trast be­tween the north and south sides of the East Cape. The drive from Opotiki to the East Cape hugs the coast­line most of the way. The views are sim­ply stun­ning and the laid­back “coastie” way of life a de­light, with many lo­cals still us­ing horses for dayto-day travel. There is some­thing spe­cial about the iso­la­tion, the some­times stark beauty and the in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters you meet along the way. The beaches and coves are mys­ti­cal and spooky with their black, al­most vol­canic look­ing rocky in­lets and na­tive bush grow­ing with wild aban­don. High­lights are the im­pos­si­bly long wharf at To­laga Bay, stingray feed­ing at Tat­apouri, the magni icent Tik­i­tiki church, the carv­ings at Mt Hiku­rangi and sun­rise at the East Cape Light­house. From the cape to Gis­borne the road takes you in­land and the land­scape trans­forms into lush rolling high coun­try farms and one long sandy beach af­ter an­other. At the heart of the re­gion is Gis­borne, a laid back coastal town fa­mous for its golden sand beaches. Gis­borne is lucky enough to oc­cupy a beau­ti­ful and re­mote part of New Zealand. Its iso­la­tion, perched out on the most east­erly edge of the coun­try, has shaped the town and its charm­ing coastal char­ac­ter. The city is com­pact, easy to nav­i­gate and sur­rounded by world class surf beaches, qual­ity vine­yards, groves of cit­rus, magni icent trees and wild rivers that me­an­der to­wards empty beaches.

A drive to the Na­tional Arboretum at East­wood­hill will take you through the spec­tac­u­lar Poverty Bay Flats, fer­tile coun­try­side where much of the fresh pro­duce grown in New Zealand comes from, not to men­tion the plethora of vine­yards that make this a stun­ning drive. Gis­borne has a rep­u­ta­tion as a pro­ducer of ine wines and head­ing south on State High­way 2, you have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence this at any of the lo­cal winer­ies. Just down the road, Rere Water­fall is a lovely spot to swim and pic­nic, while for the more ad­ven­tur­ous the Rere Rock­slide is sixty me­tres of sheer ex­hil­a­ra­tion. Be sure to stop in at Morere Hot Springs to soak your travel weary bones in the ther­mal wa­ters set amid 364 hectares of rain­for­est. Known for its ther­a­peu­tic val­ues and rare in the world of hot springs, it is a treat not to be missed. Wairoa, “Long wa­ter” in Maori, is the south­ern gate­way to East­land and the gate­way to the wilder­ness play­ground of Te Urew­era. It ex­tends over some 225,000 hectares and is the largest un­touched na­tive for­est area re­main­ing in the North Is­land. It is also home to one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, Lake Waikare­moana. To plan your next es­cape, down­load the ‘Out East App’ free from Google Play and the App Store or visit www.East­landTourism.co.nz.

Photo: Bare kiwi

East Cape Light­house

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