Travel the East Coast & Gisborne on State Highway 35

Region: East Coast & Gisborne

Welcome to the next section to discover the remote East Coast & Gisborne

Last night we recommended to you, staying at Waihau Bay after you discovered the Eastern Bay of Plenty. In Waihau Bay you can find a store to buy some essentials. In the morning you may visit Oruaiti Beach, regarded as the most accessible beach in the Eastern Bay of Plenty area. Today you continue along State Highway 35 towards East. The road leaves the coast and climbs up near Cape Runaway, leaving behind the Bay of Plenty. You are now entering the region of Eastland, also known as the East Coast & Gisborne.

Whangaparaoa Bay - near Cape Runaway
Whangaparaoa Bay – near Cape Runaway

The first settlement of East Coast & Gisborne is Potaka, where a gravel road takes you to Lottin Point. At the end of this scenic road you find a wild beach with lots of old Pohutukawa trees. A nice place for a picnic! If you don’t have much time to spare, continue on to the more accessible Hicks Bay, which is worth a longer stop. There is a little store with a map that shows you the directions to the nearby attractions. Waihirere Falls is worth a visit. You have to find the right paddock to park your car. It’s easier to find, driving from East to West, back about 5 km. From there a 15-20 minutes’ walk takes you to a pretty waterfall.

Walk to Waihirere Falls
Walk to Waihirere Falls

At the old wharf on the end of a narrow and rough road, you usually find some anglers trying their luck. Along the way, hidden in the nearby river, a refreshing swimming hole to jump in. If you prefer the sea, try out the cute Onepoto Bay. Further along at Te Araroa, you can see the oldest Pohutukawa Tree, Te Waha O Rerekohu. Here you have to decide if you drive the 40 km (extra 2 hrs) side trip on gravel to the East Cape Lighthouse.

In Tikitiki look out on the right, up a hill is located the beautifully designed Maori-styled War Memorial Church. Don’t miss it!

A side trip to the wild Rangitukia Driftwood Beach near the mouth of the Waiapu River, passes a bizarre giant waka in a paddock. The world is bit different out here… enjoy your time away from all that usually surrounds us.

The Giant Waka in a paddock
The Giant Waka in a paddock

In Tokomaru Bay stop for a drink and meet some locals at Te Puka, which offers expansive views over the bay. If you crazy about hot springs you must visit the mineral-rich Te Puia Springs. Their waters have unique proprieties… check into Te Puia Springs Hotel to find out.

Te Puka signpost at Tokomaru Bay
Te Puka signpost at Tokomaru Bay

Further down the East Coast & Gisborne

Pop down the 8 km to Anaura Bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the region East Coast & Gisborne. Wonderful sand and a walkway on the northern end of the beach invite on a sunny day to stay longer. From here is it at least 1 hour driving time to Gisborne (about 75 km).

Anaura Bay
Anaura Bay

Further south you might want to stop at Tologa Bay which is famous for hosting the longest Pier in New Zealand. Wander along the historic structure for its length of 660 metre and smell the sea water surrounding you. If you have time for a walk check out the Cooks Cove Walkway. A shorter track, takes 15-20 minutes each way. Its located the other end of the Bay, takes you up to a viewpoint on the Tatarahake Cliffs.

Tologa Bay
Tologa Bay

On your way to Gisborne you may wanna have a look at a little very original Maori village that has starred in the movie Whale Rider. Please be especially respectful. There is no sign along the road that shows its name Whangara. You need to drive off the Highway at the Pa Road to get to the village and famous marae.

Whale Rider Village Whangara
Whale Rider Village Whangara

Gisborne welcomes you with the surfer’s favourite beach of Wainui. From Kaiti Hill you can enjoy expansive views over the city and see stars at the James Cook Observatory. The region of Eastland & Gisborne invites you to visit restaurants and wineries for tastings of their local specialities. Drive about 30 minutes by car to camp at Eastwoodhill Arboretum. This tranquil place offers short walks. Wander around the trees and plants which are growing in this interesting garden.

If you liked the remote and scenic drive out here, continue 12 km further along the road. Here you have the opportunity to visit two waterfalls. The first stop could be at Rere Falls and another 2,2 km takes you to Rere Rock Slides. Both places could be busy with day visitors from Gisborne on a fine weekend. Back from Rere to Gissy will take you about 45 minutes driving in a car.

Here you find a map on the places we visited during our trip in autumn 2017.

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