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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Where to find some Eastland treasures

Discover some hidden Eastland treasures along the coast road

This article is dedicated to my dear friends Brian and Jeannette. They are very brave people. Last month they sold their house and they now travel around the North Island with their new home, a caravan. They wanna head around the East Cape next week…. therefore I like to share some travel tips for their journey. Read this article if you also like to discover some of the hidden Eastland treasures:

Day 1: Explore the Eastern Bay of Plenty

For your first stop you may check out the beautifully carved Whakario Gateway. It is located on the grounds of the school named, Te Kura o Torere. Look on the right hand side when you drive past, as you can easily miss it. Just around the next corner you will hit Hawai, a pretty wild beach with lots of driftwood. Here you feel the remoteness with a welcome to the entrance of the East Cape. At the Eastern end of Hawai stop at the lookout Maraenui Hill/Houpoto. Make sure it is safe with your caravan. From here you climb up to navigate around a cliff. Even today you can still see some debris of a massive slip.

Maraenui Hill/Houpoto
Maraenui Hill/Houpoto

The beautiful Omaio Marae

In the next section of the drive you cross the mighty Motu River before you get to the picturesque Whitianga Bay. Continue to Omaio. Just around the corner from the store, close to the shore, there is a larger car park. Check out the pretty and colourful gate at Omaio Marae. In my opinion, this is one of the best marae, along this part of the coast. If you miss it, the next marae is located right on SH35 at Te Kaha. This Marae is accompanied by some significant memorials. At sunset it looks pretty, when the sun shines on it.

Omaio Marae - Eastland treasures
Omaio Marae

At the end of the next beach you can find the signpost to Maungaroa Marae. On our last visit, we unsuccessfully tried to find the whale boatGreyhound. You might need to ask some locals at the marae as is has been moved, away from the beach, to preserve it. However, don’t miss the next stop and visit the grave of a Maori Princess Te Rangi Pai and her husband John Howie. Read the story about their interesting life.

The Grave of Princess Te Rangi Pai & John Howie 
The Grave of Princess Te Rangi Pai & John Howie 

The microclimate of Whanarua Bay and more Eastland treasures

The next beautiful spot is a little bay I name Nahunahu Stream. Not sure if this is the correct name. It’s worth a stop when the weather is fine, specially in the late afternoon. Soon after this stop you arrive in Whanarua Bay. To visit nearby Whanarua Falls, sacred to Maori, please contact the Park family to get permission to cross their land. In Whanarua Bay you can try some Macadamia Nuts and visit the popular Maraehako Bay for a picnic on the beach. Whanarua Bay is regarded as one of the best places along this remote coast on the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Meet some friendly locals and enjoy a mild climate all year round.

Nahunahu Stream
Nahunahu Stream

One of the most interesting places along this coast is the Anglican Church of Raukokore. The church and its graveyard is located close to a beach and totally awesome to visit at sunset. Therefore I would advise you to organise your overnight stay at nearby Waihau Bay.

The beautiful Anglican Church of Raukokore
The beautiful Anglican Church of Raukokore

Follow State Highway 35 and read what you can find around the East Cape and in Gisborne….

Rotorua – Waterfalls North Island in the Central Region

Wairere Te-Wairoa Falls Cascades

Waterfalls around Rotorua

We take you to a visit of the most important and must-see waterfalls around Rotorua and the central region. Find out their rating, height and how to access…

Tarawera Falls

Rating: *****
Height: 65 m
Access: Apply for a permit (about $5-6 at Kawerau Information Centre) to access the private forestry road (gravel) that leads to the car park at Waterfall Road. From there it’s an easy 40min return walk.

Impressive, must see waterfalls with clear water and historic Maori story, located in the Rotoiti Forest.

Waiatiu Falls

Rating: ****
Access: Remote location in Whirinaki Forest Park, drive to and stop at River Road car park. It’s an easy 1.5hrs return walk (1,6km), which can be slippery after rain.

This track leads you into a beautiful native forest with lots of bird life. Remote enough to be peaceful and uncrowded.

Mangamate Falls

Rating: ***
Height: 7 m
Access: The falls can be seen from the car park, drive about 300m gravel road from the Minginui Road intersection.

The waterfall is located at the Murupara Motor Camp, a great spot for a picnic near Whirinaki Forest Park.

Wairere (Te-Wairoa) Falls

Rating: ****
Height: 30 m
Access: The falls are within the Buried Village, where an entry fee (currently $34 for an adult) has to be paid. Open daily (closed Xmas Day) between 9am and 4.30pm. Located past the Blue and Green Lake on Tarawera Road, 25 minutes by car from Rotorua.

This historic place, once called Te Wairoa, offers a variety. Besides exploring the falls, you can read stories about the eruption of Mt Tarawera and visit sites from the past.

Kerosene Creek

Rating: ****
Height: 2 m
Access: 10 min easy return walk from car park at the end of Old Walotapu Road. Don’t leave any valuables in the car.

This hot water stream attracts a high number of visitors during the summer season. It can be quite hot, be careful with your soak. Therefore, its even better to visit during winter and early spring.

Okere Falls Track, visit three cataract-style waterfalls

Experience an active adventure – rafting down the waterfalls on the Kaituna River

Access: Drive 30 min north of Rotorua on SH 30. Continue on SH 33. Follow Okere Falls Road and Trout Pool Road to find two car parks. Allow for a total of 30 min to the end to see Kaituna and Tutea Falls, return same way or on Trout Pool Road. If you feel adventurous, you can book an exciting rafting trip!

Okere Falls

Rating: ****
Height: 5 m
Access: Park your car at the first car park. Okere Falls track takes you in 5 min to the falls.

Discover interesting history along the Okere Falls Track.

Kaituna Falls

Rating: ***
Height: 5 m
Access: Park at the last car park at the end of Trout Pool Road. The well-formed Okere Falls track takes you in 5 min to the falls. Continue on track for 10 min to Tutea Falls.

You might be lucky and see some rafters and kayaker on the Kaituna River during your bush walk.

Tutea Falls

Rating: *****
Height: 7 m
Access: Park at Okere Falls Road or Trout Pool Road car park. Walk 15 min (half way) on the well-formed Okere Falls track.

Adventure Alert!! Take photos of rafters from the lookout or plunge yourself down a waterfall. This is the world’s highest, commercially operated Rafting Trip!

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Rotorua Waterfall
Rotorua Waterfall

Tongariro National Park – Waterfalls North Island in the Central Region

Tawhai Falls

Waterfalls around Tongariro National Park

We take you to a visit of the most important waterfalls around the central region. View the photos and find out their rating, height and how to access…

On the western side of the Tongariro National Park, near Whakapapa Village, you can discover: Taranaki Falls, Tawhai Falls, Silica Rapids, Soda Springs and Mahuia Rapids. On the southern end of Tongariro National Park, near Ohakune, you can explore: Mangawhero Falls and Ohakune Mountain Falls.


Taranaki Falls

Taranaki Falls

Rating: *****
Height: 20 m
Access: 2hrs loop walk through beech forest and mountain scenery from Whakapapa Village

Impressive waterfall track which offers views of volcanic mountain scenery on a clear day.

Waterfalls around Tongariro National Park: Tawhai Falls

Tawhai Falls

Rating: ****
Height: 13 m
Access: 20min easy return walk from carpark at SH48 towards Whakapapa Village

Easy to get waterfall, where you might see the rare Blue Ducks


Silica Rapids

Silica Rapids

Rating: ***
Access: 1,5hrs return walk from carpark at SH48 on Bruce Road

Scenic track with interesting vegetation and volcanic mountain views on a clear day.


Soda Springs

Soda Springs

Rating: ****
Height: 15 m
Access: Allow 2hrs 30min for return track from the carpark at the end of Mangatepopo Road (gravel road for 6km)

Section of the famous Tongariro Crossing, can be busy with walkers on a nice summer day.


Mahuia Rapids with Mt Ruapehu

Mahuia Rapids

Rating: ***
Access: Close to the junction of SH47 and SH48, stop by the bridge and look towards the mountains.

The rapids can be framed with Mt Ruapehu or Mt Ngauruhoe in the background.


Mangawhero Falls

Mangawhero Falls

Rating: ****
Height: 28 m
Access: 20 min easy return walk to lookout platform, car park near KM16 on Ohakune Mountain Road.

Beautiful waterfall with easy access and views of Mt Ruapehu on clear days.


Ohakune Mountain Falls

Ohakune Mountain Falls

Rating: ***
Height: 10 m
Access: To view the waterfall from roadside car park, stop near KM13 on Ohakune Mountain Rd.

No official track, but you can follow the river bed with appropriate gear and care.

Would you like to visit more waterfalls in this region? You can find the famous Huka Falls and more near Lake Taupo.

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Tongariro National Park Waterfall
Tongariro National Park Waterfall

Taupo – Waterfalls North Island in the Central Region


Waterfalls around Lake Taupo

We take you to a visit of the most important waterfalls around the central region. Find out their rating, height and how to access…

Huka Falls

Huka Falls

Rating: *****
Height: 11 m
Access: 10min easy return walk along the fall from Huka Falls Road car park

A must see: where more than 220 000 litres of water per second funnel through a narrow gorge, a powerful experience!


Pools at Aratiatia Rapids

Aratiatia Rapids

Rating: ****
Height: 5m
Access: 20-30min easy return walk to viewpoints from Rapids Road car park at the dam

Special times when the floodgate opens: 10am, 12pm and 2pm, in summer additionally at 4pm. Lasts for about 15min, best to arrive 10min prior to get to the viewpoint in time! This was a movie location, where the Hobbits escaped with barrels down the river.


Waipunga Falls

Waipunga Falls

Rating: ****
Height: 40 m
Access: Viewing point from the car park at lookout on SH5

Stop at the towards the left pointing sign-posted lookout on the State Highway between Taupo and Napier to get to the falls

Otupoto Falls (Waihora) and Tieke Falls (Waihaha)

Experience an active adventure to remote waterfalls on Lake Taupo

Access: Organise transfer from Kinloch to SH32 turn off for a bike ride (grade 3) for up to 3,5 hours on Waihaha (13km) and Waihora (17km) tracks or walk in total 7,5 hours one way. About 7 km into the track, you will find the viewpoint for Tieke Falls (37m high). From the end of the track, you reached the Otupoto Waterfall, located at the lake shore. To get to Kinloch from here, pre-book a boat transfer.

Waihaha

Tieke Falls

Viewpoint about half way (around KM 7) on Waihaha track. Alternatively get to the beach next to the waterfall by jet-ski or helicopter.

Waihora

Otupoto Falls

This waterfall is located at the end of the track right on the lake shore.

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Taupo Waterfall
Taupo Waterfall

New Zealand Waterfalls & Geothermal – North Island

New Zealand/North Island

New Zealand Waterfalls

Here you will find a selection of our favorite New Zealand waterfalls dotted around the North Island. We will tell you how accessible they are and let you know which one you have to pay for (luckily its not many of them, only a few!). If height matters or is impressive or other things are useful to know, we will make a note about it. Hope you enjoy your journey of our selection of waterfalls in New Zealand... we take you to Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Rotorua and more...

New Zealand/North Island

Geothermal Parks & Hot Pools

We will take you to our favorite geothermal parks and hot pools around the North Island. You will find out how much they cost and how to find the free ones. If anything else matters, we will make a note about it. Hope you enjoy your trip to our selection of geothermal parks and hot pools in New Zealand...