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