Scenic East Cape & Mahia Peninsula
Journey with us to the easternmost point of New Zealand, the East Cape. On our Scenic East Cape and Mahia Peninsula tour enjoy wonderful views of beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs and wild bush land. We will visit numerous historical sites and learn about our unique and interesting cultural heritage including the landing site of the Arawa Canoe, Hicks Bay, Mahia Peninsula and much more…
Friday 8 May – Tuesday 12 May 2020 (5 Days)
Day 1: Friday 8 May 2020 – Home cities — Whakatane (D)
Departing our home cities this morning, we travel over the Kaimai Ranges to the Bay of Plenty, named by Captain James Cook in 1769 because of the abundance of water and food as it is today. Our first stop will be Mount Maunganui where you will have a chance to purchase your lunch and stretch your legs. After our lunch stop, we travel along the new Tauranga Eastern Link toll road through to Maketu to view the landing site of the Arawa canoe, marked now with a stone cairn and plaque depicting the event. We’ll then continue along the coastal road through Matata and on to Whakatane. On a fine day, we’ll have a good view over to White Island, an active marine volcano. The Whakatane district is steeped in history and culture. The Mataatua canoe landed here and Pa sites from the early settlement are identifiable along the coast. The Maori language and culture are strong and viable with over 40% of the population being of Maori Heritage. Predominant Iwi in the region includes Ngati Awa, Tuhoe, and Te Whakatohea. The region is rich in forestry resources along with dairy farming, fruit growing and market gardening. After a sightseeing tour of Whakatane, we’ll check into our accommodation for the evening. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the Whakatane RSA.
Accommodation: Barrington’s Motel, Whakatane — 1 Night
Day 2: Saturday 9 May 2020 – WHAKATANE — HICKS BAY (BD)
After breakfast this morning, we’ll stop in town for you to purchase your lunch to enjoy at one of the many scenic areas along the way. Departing Whakatane, we follow the shoreline of the Ohiwa Harbour to Opotiki following “The Pathway to the Sunrise” marked by two large magnificent carved poles. Opotiki is situated on a harbour inlet formed by the junction of two rivers, the Waioeka and the Otara on three sides. The region from Ohiwa Harbour in the south and Cape Runaway in the North has a sparse population of only 9200 people. We follow the coastline following State Highway 35 passing numerous bays and beaches to Te Kaha. This area is developing with its microclimate and is now a prosperous kiwifruit growing area which in turn creates more employment for the locals. We then move on through Waihau Bay before Whangaparoa and crossing Cape Runaway to Hicks Bay and our overnight stop. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at our motel.
Accommodation: Hicks Bay Motel, Hicks Bay —1 Night
Day 3: Sunday 10 May 2020 – Hicks Bay — Gisborne (BLD)
Leaving Hicks Bay from the top of the hill, we’ll enjoy views of the East Cape beyond Te Araroa. Here we visit the world’s largest standing Pohutakawa tree (Te Waha o Rerekohu). We visit the township of Ruatoria, the largest town since leaving Opotiki. Ruatoria offers facilities not found in other coastal towns so far and is a service town for many outlying valleys. Ruatoria is the centre for the Ngati Porou tribe. Sir Apirana Ngata lived here and his memory is perpetuated in the Ngata Memorial College (he also appears on our $50 notes). As we leave Ruatoria good views can generally be seen of Mt Hikurangi, which at 1754 metres is the highest non-volcanic peak in North Island and the first place to see the sun in New Zealand each day. We visit Tokomaru Bay where the remains of the old freezing works which closed down in 1952. While in Tokomaru Bay, we’ll enjoy a lunch at the Te Puka Tavern. After lunch, we visit Anaura Bay before arriving at Tologa Bay and the old Wharf area. Walking out along this historic wharf reminds us of the days gone by and the way this was constructed without all the mod cons of today. We continue along this sandy coastline to Gisborne. The Gisborne region has been settled for over 1000 years, although Europeans did not arrive until the late 19th Century when the first whaling station was established in the area. It was Gisborne however, that Captain Cook made his first landfall on New Zealand soil in 1769 naming it Poverty Bay after deciding it had nothing to offer. We visit Cook’s monument and the monument for Nicholas Young the cabin boy and first member of Captain Cook’s ship the Endeavour to sight land. We continue with Gisborne city sights before checking into our overnight accommodation. We’ll enjoy dinner tonight at our hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Emerald Hotel, Gisborne —1 Night
Day 4: Monday 11 May 2020 – Gisborne – NAPIER (BLD)
We commence our day with a visit to see the Eastwood Hill Arboretum in all its autumn splendour. We then continue on our way traversing the Whararata range to Mahia Peninsula. This is a diamond-shaped isthmus 5 kilometres long with its crescent-shaped beach to the south and sheltered beach on the north side. Backtracking out to Nuhaka and then onto Wairoa, which is the northernmost town of the Hawkes Bay region with a population of 9000 for the region. The town is split by the vast Wairoa River and the old Portland Island lighthouse from Mahia, which has been restored and now sits alongside the town’s third bridge. Early settlement in the area included a whaling station and trading post dealing largely in flax. Today Wairoa is a manufacturing and farming service town. Departing Wairoa we continue our journey through Northern Hawkes Bay passing by Lake Tutira. On this route, when approaching Bay View, we pass the Whirinaki pulp and paper mill where Pan Pac was established in 1971. In 2007 Pan Pac became wholly owned by Oji Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper producers in Japan. Over 220,000 tonnes of thermo-mechanical wood pulp is produced annually and shipped from the Port of Napier to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, where Oji Paper has a large paper manufacturing plant. On arrival in Napier, we’ll check in to our accommodation on Marine Parade. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at the Napier RSA.
Accommodation: Quality Hotel Napier – 1 night
Day 5: Tuesday 12 May 2020 – NAPIER— HOME CITIES (B)
After breakfast this morning, we’ll enjoy a sightseeing tour of Napier, viewing the Art Deco buildings, the Port, and Ahuriri. We then depart Napier and travel north through the Esk Valley and over the Titiokura Saddle at about 2,200ft. It then climbs 1,000ft over the Turangakumu Range, and through the southern end of the huge Kaiangaroa Forest to cross the wide pumice plateau of the Kaiangaroa Plains on our way to Taupo, where we have our lunch stop, before continuing our homeward journey.