East Cape Escape 2019
9-15 December 2019Download PDF Itinerary
Take a step back in time and slow down the pace, take off your shoes and take time to paddle, as we explore the scenically and culturally rich East Cape.
We take the road less travelled and view beautiful churches, discover isolated bays and relax on beaches with pohutukawa backdrops. We ride the rails at Awakeri, walk to visit the East Cape lighthouse marking the easternmost point on the North Island, and dine with locals at Waihau and Tokomaru Bays. We enjoy an opportunity to soak in the mineral pools at Morere Hot Springs, and immerse ourselves in the areas rich culture.
Monday 09 December - Travelling to Rotorua
We meet at our favourite café in Sanson this morning, with transfers from Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu and other surrounding areas.Morning tea gives us a chance to mix and mingle to catch up with friends and welcome new ones. Following morning tea, we travel through to Taihape for our lunch (own choice and cost) and perhaps a chance of a little retail therapy. Rotorua is our end destination today with another leg stretch enroute. We dine in tonight at our hotel adjacent to Government Gardens on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
Tuesday 10 December - Rotorua to Whakatane
This morning we make our way out to Te Wairoa Valley.Here we discover an important piece of Bay of Plenty’s history, Te Wairoa Village, a peaceful spot that belies the devastation wreaked by the Tarawera eruption which buried the entire village in 1886. This scenic drive out to the village skirts the shores of the beautiful Blue and Green Lakes, and we will also have the chance to view Lake Tarawera. Armed with a picnic lunch (included) we journey through to Whakatane via the Hongi’s Track Scenic Reserve, and the charming twin lakes, Rotoehu and Rotoma. Our adventure today enroute is to ‘ride the rails’ with the self-drive Awakeri Railcarts. This evening we take a short but picturesque drive over to Ohope Beach where we dine out at a local restaurant.
Wednesday 11 December - Whakatane to Hicks Bay
We travel through Taneatua to Opotiki this morning.Here we stop to view the Hiona St Stephen’s Church, significant in the early history of this town. From here the Pacific Coast Highway hugs the coast for almost the entire journey through to Whanarua Bay. This unforgettable drive winds past rocky coves, sweeping beaches and slopes clad with pohutukawa, and provides unlimited opportunities to view the smouldering cone of White Island on the horizon. We stop to view the charming Raukokere Church and take a short detour into Waihau Bay to enjoy lunch at the Waihau Bay Lodge (included). At Whangaparaoa we leave the coast behind for a short time as we journey across the top of the cape to remote Hicks Bay. Our last detour is a journey to the East Cape lighthouse marking the easternmost point on the North Island. There is time this afternoon for the intrepid to make the climb to the top for the spectacular views. We return to Hicks Bay whose sweeping stretch of beach we overlook from our cliff top motel. We dine in tonight.
Thursday 12 December - Hicks Bay to Gisborne
Departing Hicks Bay this morning our travels today take us through many of the small culturally rich communities that feature on the East Cape.We visit East Cape Manuka where we discover an enterprising business producing honey, manuka oil and cosmetics from locally sourced manuka. At Te Araroa we stop to admire the world’s largest pohutukawa “Te Waha O Rerekohu”, and then, moving on to Tikitiki, the intricate woven panel work inside the historic St Mary’s Church there. We pass Mount Hikurangi – the first place to see the dawn each day, and at Tokomaru Bay the sea is again our backdrop as we enjoy lunch at the ‘local’. We get to walk on the beach at Anaura Bay before a further stop at Tolaga Bay to explore its historic wharf jutting 660 metres out into the sea. Our day ends in Gisborne, where we will be staying for the next two nights. We dine out at a highly recommended restaurant tonight only a five minute walk from our accommodation.
Friday 13 December - Discovering Gisborne
We discover the sights and attractions of NZ’s most eastern city today.We start by taking a drive up to the scenic viewpoint of Kaiti Hill, where great views can be had of the city, of the harbour, and of the iconic Young Nicks Head. We visit the Tairawhiti museum and art gallery that has a reputation as one of the very best, most innovative regional museums in New Zealand. There is a little time for retail therapy or wandering at leisure before we drive along the waterfront where there are several monuments to remind us of Captain Cook’s historic landfall on New Zealand shores. We journey out through the scenic Ngatapa Valley to Eastwoodhill Arboretum. We enjoy a picnic lunch in this leafy setting before taking a guided stroll among some of the 4,000 different trees and shrubs of this magnificent collection, ranging from majestic sequoia’s, oaks and elms, to the prehistoric trees of Gondwanaland. On our return, we enjoy time to rest and relax back at our hotel, before dining out again this evening.
Saturday 14 December - Gisborne to Napier
Departing Gisborne this morning we head back up the coast.A short way to visit the private garden of Tiromoana, described as “Gisborne’s garden over the sea: a sanctuary for nature and art”. We journey through to Morere Springs, where we stop for lunch. There is also an option to take a relaxing bathe in the hot pools (own cost) for which this area is renowned, located in scenic native bush surrounds. Following lunch, we take a scenic detour out along the Mahia Peninsula with time to paddle. We then continue to our Napier accommodation to enjoy our last dinner together.
Sunday 15 December - Travelling Home
Homeward bound today.Before we do we visit the Farmers Market at the Hawkes Bay Showgrounds, where we will have the opportunity to wander at leisure around the market, listening to local music and discovering the diverse range of products grown and produced in Hawke's Bay - from hand-made cheeses, breads, ice-cream, chocolates and meat products to seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. There is no fresher place to shop for a wide range of local foods and forage for lunch (own choice and cost). Finally, we return to Woodville where we farewell fellow travellers and will be transferred to our respective home
The cost of the tour includes
- 2 course or buffet dinners
- All Breakfasts
- Morning teas on most travelling days
- All coach travel
- Te Wairoa Buried Village – guided tour & Devonshire morning tea
- Awakeri Rail Adventures – self-drive rail cart
- Picnic lunch at Awakeri
- Hiona St Stephen’s church donation
- Waihau Bay Lodge – lunch
- East Cape Manuka – talk, tour and morning tea
- Te Puka Tavern, Tokomaru Bay - lunch
- Tairawhiti Museum - entry
- Eastwoodhill Arboretum - guided tour
- Picnic lunch at Eastwoodhill
- Tiromoana Garden - visit
- Morere Hot Springs - entry and lunch