Driving Around The East Cape
Every few years, I like to make the trip around the East Cape of New Zealand. This to me, is like cracking open a bottle of New Zealand culture and taking a shot. Quick, in your face, and it hits home real quick. Too much, too often and you'll find yourself craving for your wee patch along this spectacular coastline to call home. Being based in Christchurch, the south island version of this would have to be Kaikoura, however you don't find the stunning beaches that you do here on the East Cape. Stunning beaches that I would explore for the next two days! I've been lucky enough to have amazing weather every time I have toured this coastline which makes for absolutely stunning views and photographs. You can take the sort of photos that look as though someone has spent time in Photoshop but are in fact completely natural. Last time I took the Opotiki-Gisborne route however driving up from the South I would instead arrive in Tolaga Bay on the Friday night at around 8pm, not before taking this photo above Waihau Bay (Loisels Beach) just on sunset. The gentle sea breeze really gives it the friday evening feeling, where you just know relaxation is only just around the corner. The Tolaga Bay Motor Camp is a great location right by the famous wharf which after Googling it just now, I find out is the largest concrete wharf in the southern hemisphere. These sorts of facts I find quite interesting but do wonder how disappointing it must be when a town has to downgrade their fact from being the longest/biggest/thickest X in the world to the 'southern hemisphere' . Sorry there's no amazing photo of the wharf for you here, I arrived late at night and left quite early in the morning, but did however manage to snap this photo from the Uawa river bridge just after sunrise. Choice! Time to move on around this might state highway 35 with Jack Johnsons 'Never Know' on the stereo. Perfect! The weekend was now well and truly in full swing and things were looking up. I came across this fast food 'giant' in Tokomaru Bay, this...the local sense of humor is part of the culture that you just soak up all along this drive. It was still fairly early in the morning, so didn't manage to check out the burgers although was craving a Twister combo after seeing this KFC. I far prefer to stop in at the smallest cafe/bakery that I can find in these small towns. You might not get the best flat white or the perfectly made pie, but you gain so much in getting a bunch of new experiences. I don't know why, but it's these experiences/memories that seem to stick longer with me than the aftertaste of that coffee I missed out on. Weird I know. Moving on after eating my chicken roll, I arrived at Kaiaua Beach which was a little off the beaten track but a cool wee spot where it seemed for the two hours I spent there, I had the entire beach to myself. This is quite a popular freedom camping spot, which you need to get your licence for. You'll be glad you did! The only downside to the trip was the road works that was taking place around the north end of the road. With this trip being all about soaking up the culture though, it allowed me to have a quick chat with the Stop/Go sign holder. I always find it funny to drive past the road works and seeing 20 guys sitting down watching the cars drive past. I'm sure the work is done at a leisurely pace around here! It's this relaxed way of life that I miss and find myself driving past feeling a little envious of the life these guys must live in the part of New Zealand.