We drove further around the Bay of Plenty towards Cape Runaway and then crossed through the mountains to the East Coast. Our first stop was the East Cape Lighthouse built some 160 m above sea level on a cliff looking towards the first rising sun of the new day. Some 6 km before the lighthouse was a small primitive seaside camping where we spent the night. Day total 180 km.
The winding road ran up and down the hills/cliffs following the Pacific Ocean. Lunch was in Tolaga Bay where in the 1920’s a long wharf was built into the bay to load the local produce (sheep, meat and wood) into the waiting ships. In Gisborne we increased our cultural awareness by visiting the local museum. A bit further down the coast, at Nuhaka, we turned off the main A2 and found a commercial camp site on the Mahia peninsula. (Day total 277 km).
A bit further along the coastal A2 in Wairoa we turned off to the north. The winding road through the hills changed from tarmac to gravel before reaching lake Waikaremoiga in the Urewera NP after 113 km. There was a large campsite on the lake shore where we stayed. Before sunset we made a stroll up into the old growth surrounding the lake. It was like walking in the Borneo jungle but without the leaches/mosquito’s and the heat. Large old trees are scattered in-between younger ones (the way it should be). The pathways are covered with leaves falling off the “ever green” trees. The path follows mountain ridges and bought us to an exceptionally big rata tree of over 1000 years old. This parasitic vine outlived the mother tree and now stands on its own.
The next morning we did some more short walks around the visitors Center admiring the waterfalls in the Aniwaniwa river. Then it was down the mountain back to the A2 along the coast and on to Napier (198 km). Along the way we had lunch close to the Mohaka rail bridge (1937) the highest train bridge (97m) in Australasia. Napier is well known for its Art Deco city centre. We spent some 2 hrs strolling the streets and water front. Tomorrow we will go back for the museum.