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East Cape - Summer/Autumn 2014

Another trip, this time to the East Cape with BJ and Fiona, to an area that Andy and Jenny hadn't visited during their stay in New Zealand. The East Cape is a remote area with a very low population density. Settlements cluster around the coastline with the largest towns being Gisborne (population 36,000) at the Southern end of the East Cape and Whakatane (population 35,000) at the North-Western end of the cape. The route along the coast stretches about 400km through some incredibly beautiful countryside.

We didn't take the simple coastal route, taking a much more long winded option. Our first destination was Lake Waikaremoana, inland of Wairoa at the Southern end of Te Urewera National Park. After a night staying at Napier - where we played some mini golf and used a baseball pitching machine - we reached our destination. There is a multi-day walk around the edge of Lake Waikaremoana, which is supposedly one of the most popular walks in the North Island. We didn't have time to complete the walk, so instead we hired a boat which we could take out onto a smaller lake, Lake Waikareiti. The walk to the lake was incredibly humid, and it was a great relief to get out of the dense bush and into the rowing boat out onto the lake. It's fair to say there were a few larks out on the lake, with the row boat going round in circles a few times as we each took it in turns to have a row.

The next stop after Waikaremoana was back inland to Rotorua where we partook in some luging (freewheeling downhill on a kart type vehicle which only has a brake) and some white water rafting. Straight after the rafting, we headed on to Whakatane at the Northern end of the East Cape. Out from Whakatane, you can take a boat trip to an active volcanic island, White Island. While active, it isn't spewing lava, but belts out steam and sulphurous gases continuously. The boat trip out to White Island was pleasant enough, and you are then able to take a guided walk on the island - pointing out various features of the island, including the obsolete sulphur mine workings. On the way back to Whakatane, the boat was followed by a pod of dolphins which was a pleasant addition to the trip.

From Whakatane, we took the inland State Highway 2 directly to Gisborne. After a relaxing day in Gisborne, it was finally time to hit the East Cape road, State Highway 35, which would take us back to Whakatane. Along the way, we made a number of stops at scenic locations. The highlights being Tolaga Bay and its long wharf, Hicks Bay - where we stayed the night and left early to watch the sunrise from the most Easterly point in New Zealand and Waihau Bay. Another great stop was the macadamia nut cafe, Pacific Coast Macadamias located near to Whanarua Bay. Then we were back to Whakatane.

Before heading back home, we had a few relaxing days at Mount Maunganui, staying in an apartment block just over the road from the beach. A few days of swimming, walking up Mount Maunganui and kayaking up river from the Waimarino Adventure Park. We also managed to fit in a pleasant excursion to the Katikati Bird Gardens, just North of Tauranga. Our final destinations were Auckland - for an opportunity to sail on an America's Cup yacht and to see a Super Rugby match - and Hamilton, where we watched another Super Rugby match. Then home. A very long road trip!

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Top Left: A waterfall, visible from the roadside on the Northern side of Lake Waikaremoana. The Mokau Stream flows down over the Mokau Falls before discharging into Lake Waikaremoana.

Top Right: A view of White Island from the boat.

Right: A sulphurous stream running across White Island

Bottom Left: A sulphurous vent on White Island.

Bottom Right: Decaying machinery from the remaining buildings of the Old Sulphur Mine. It must have been risky work for the miners to be based on a volcanic island. A number of attempts to mine the island's sulphur deposits were made, a number of which failed. One mining operation came to a halt due to the collapse of part of the volcano's rim.
No. I haven't done that sodding outlet level retail budget yet.
I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!! Left: A New Zealand Pied Shag sitting on a rock at Whakatane Harbour. The boat to White Island leaves from Whakatane Harbour.

Bottom Left: A view of the wharf at Tolaga Bay - 600m long, the longest in New Zealand. The wharf fell out of use in 1967, and deteriorated. A restoration project finished work in 2013 and by the time of our visit, you could walk the full length of the wharf and it was well worth the visit.

Bottom Right: The sun starting to rise from the East Cape - the Easternmost point of New Zealand and the first place in New Zealand to see the sun.
Anyone fancy a Retail Level turnover budget?
Right: The sun continuing to rise over the East Cape.

Bottom Left: Andy and BJ outside the post office at Waihau Bay. Waihau Bay is a tiny settlement about 50km from the East Cape made famous in the 2010 film Boy.

Bottom Right: The view from the Mount down on the town of Mount Maunganui.
No. I haven't done that sodding outlet level retail budget yet.
I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!! Left: The view from the back end (stern) of the America's Cup yacht we got to sail on in Auckland. The yacht was a monohull from the mid 1990s and could really get up some speed with the wind behind.
Right: BJ and Jenny grinding on the America's Cup yacht. Grinders man the winches on a yacht and help to reel in the sails and ensure the yacht can tack or gybe.