Explore the East Cape of New Zealand
The East Cape is a gem of a destination. Remote, isolated, time moves differently there. Beaches, the natural environment and community are foremost in the locals’ hearts and minds. Because of its remoteness, it’s worth planning your trip before you go so you don’t miss out on the must-sees and must-dos!
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to off-the-beaten-track adventures in the area. You can see the first sunrise in the world in a guided experience atop Maunga Hikurangi – surrounded by exquisite carvings each with their own story. Or how about heading out to pat friendly wild stingrays at Tatapouri. Perhaps you could climb up to New Zealand’s most easterly lighthouse – East Cape Lighthouse – or Kaiti hill with its views of ocean and the Gisborne plains. Wainui beach has amazing surf, and the fishing on the 660m Tolaga Bay Wharf is not too bad either.
The Cape also has a wide range of food options including lots of local specialities on the menu – check out Te Araroa’s East Cape Manuka Company Café for amazing manuka and kawakawa teas, Ruatoria’s Hati Nati café for fried bread, Tolaga Bay’s Broad Bills food trailer for fresh pizza by the wharf, Tokomaru Bay’s Café 35 for acclaimed paua pies, and the Yummy Dumplings food trailer (Te Araroa and Ruatoria). Importantly, they all do a great coffee.
There’s a variety of places to stay on an East Cape trip. Hicks Bay Motel and Nga Puriri BnB place you in one of the most picturesque bays around. The tranquil Te Puia Springs historic hotel speaks to another era. Te Puka Tavern puts you swish new units right on Tokomaru Bay beach. Captain Cook Lodge and the Blackhouse Luxury Lodge are just two Gisborne options – at both ends of the budget scale.
Visiting the East Cape really is one of the New Zealand must-dos. The locals are all about warm hospitality and the area has something for all – memories of unique experiences such as Maunga Hikurangi’s Te Urunga-Tu sunrise experience or an up-close encounter with friendly stingrays will be treasured forever.