Enjoy the sunrise of your lifetime at the easternmost point of New Zealand. The historic East Cape lighthouse stands 154 metres above sea level and is one of the first to greet the new day.
In Eastland, Maori life is at the forefront and you will have opportunity to learn about the local tribes and rich history of the region. Take your time. This route will wow you with plenty of amazing beaches and panoramic views.
Stop in the tiny coastal settlement of Te Araroa where you will find New Zealand’s oldest and largest pohutukawa tree. And before you know it, you will emerge onto a Reef Ecology Tour and feed stingrays while learning about local legends.
We recommend an early start as you are booked in for a visit to the active volcano White Island.
Drive from Rotorua to Whakatane (approx. 96km, 1.5 hours).
Whakatane is located in the spectacular Eastern Bay of Plenty, world-famous for incredible deep sea fishing and marine sports.
White Island Tour (included)
Board a purpose built launch for a comfortable 80 minute journey to White Island. Join your experienced guide for a 2 hour exploration of New Zealand’s only live marine volcano. Feel the power of Mother Nature as you venture up to the craters edge.
Accommodation: White Island Rendezvous
Located opposite the picturesque Whakatane wharf and just a stroll from the town centre, White Island Rendezvous has a range of spacious units to offer.
Mataatua Cultural Experience (included):
This 2 hour journey will be an intimate engagement with the Ngati Awa people. World class digital technology is combined with powerful storytellers to bring the legends of Ngati Awa to life.
The whole of the East Cape region is very remote, Maori make up 30 percent of the population. The first Polynesians landed in Whakatane and around the East Cape.
After leaving Opotiki, you will drive by dozens of idyllic beaches and coves for the next 120km. There are plenty of good photo stops. Take your time and enjoy.
Raukokore Anglican Church: Picturesque white wooden church, est. 1894. Photo stop.
Waihau Bay: The New Zealand film “Boy” was filmed here. You find a restaurant at Waihau Bay Lodge if you fancy a meal.
Accommodation: Hicks Bay Motel Lodge
Hicks Bay Motel Lodge is situated on historically and botanically protected, unspoilt Maori Reserved Land. Surrounded by nature you can enjoy breath taking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Rise and shine! This morning, be one of the first to greet the day at East Cape lighthouse.
East Cape: The most eastern point of the world is accessible via a 20 km gravel road from Te Araroa. The climb up the 726 steps to the light house will be rewarded with an amazing view.
Te Araroa: It’s all about Manuka Oil at the East Cape Manuka Company. Small shop. Visit New Zealand’s oldest pohutukawa tree which stands proudly in the grounds of the local school.
Tikitiki: St. Mary’s Church is well worth a visit because of its unique Maori architecture.
Te Puia Springs: Small rural town with hot springs.
Tokomaru Bay: Nice village, beautiful beach, cliffs and good surf for surfers. The old buildings give the town its distinct character and the real East Cape feel. Te Puka tavern is a good spot for a meal.
Anaura Bay: Anaura Bay Walkway is a 4.5km loop. Enjoy panoramic views of Anaura Bay, Motuoroi Island and the coastline to the south.
Accommodation: Rangimarie Beachstay, Anaura Bay
Rangimarie Beachstay is situated at Anaurau Bay with its beautiful golden sandy beach. All suites and rooms have private decks with fantastic views of the bay. Another perfect spot for sunrise.
Tolaga Bay: The country’s longest pier measuring 660 m is located here.
Whangara: This village was the location and setting for the successful New Zealand novel (by Witi Ihimaera) and movie Whale Rider. You can do a guided tour of Whangara (optional).
On your way to Gisborne you are booked for a Reef Ecological Tour with Dive Tatapouri - one of the most unique things to do in New Zealand. Walk across the reef with your experienced guide and interact with wild stingrays and other reef dwellers.
Please note that tours depend on tides and weather conditions which may make it necessary to move the tour to the next morning.
Accommodation: Portside Hotel, Gisborne
Superbly located on the water’s edge in Gisborne’s CBD with picturesque views of the inner harbour or city scape. All rooms feature full kitchens. Suites offer separate bedroom and a spacious living area with balcony.
This morning you leave Gisborne to Napier to continue with the remainder of your itinerary.
Rere Falls and Rockslide at Wharekopae River: The 25m high waterfalls are situated around 45min east of Gisborne and a picturesque picnic spot.
About 2kms from Rere Falls, the rockslide is a 60m long natural slide created over thousands of years as water has worn the now smooth rock-face.
Both are well worth the trip and a gem in the region for locals and visitors.
Morere: Morere Hot Springs. Unique pool in the bush.