• Interesting East Cape Landscapes to Visit this Summer

Aotearoa’s East Cape juts out into the Pacific Ocean like the fin of a fish, offering a myriad of cultural and historical landmarks. As the easternmost point of New Zealand, it’s the first place to see the sunrise every day – and it’s also renowned for its high number of sunshine hours.

From the intricately carved St Mary’s Church to the Tolaga Bay Wharf, New Zealand’s oldest pohutukawa tree, and the East Cape Lighthouse standing sentinel over the Pacific Ocean, the landmarks and scenery of the East Cape are distinctive and varied. And it makes for a beautiful, memorable summer Kiwi holiday.

1. St Mary’s Church at Tikitiki

Inside of a Church on the East Cape, Gisborne

Caption: The intricate pews and walls of St. Mary’s Church, Tikitiki on the East Cape. Credit: www.tairawhitigisborne.co.nz

With an interior crafted by local Ngāti Porou carvers and weavers but with a structure that is distinctly European, this stunning church displays a meeting of two cultures and was built as a memorial for the soldiers of Ngāti Porou who died in WWI.

Famous Ngāti Porou leader, Sir Āpirana Ngata was the skilled mastermind behind the interior design. He was known for his dedication to reviving the dying Māori art and craft skills in general, and St Mary’s was one of his first initiatives. A short 20-minute drive from Ruatoria – the meeting point for the Maunga Hikurangi experience – St Mary’s is easy (and essential!) to fit into any East Cape itinerary.

2. Tolaga Bay Wharf

A view of a long wharf from the beach out to the ocean

Caption: The outstretched arm into the ocean: Tolaga Bay Wharf, East Cape. Credit: www.newzealand.com

Both one of the best places on the Cape to dangle a fishing line and a fascinating snapshot of Aotearoa in the first quarter of the 1900s, Tolaga Bay Wharf is well worth the 30 min walk to the end and back. This epic structure juts 660 metres into the Pacific Ocean and was opened in 1929 to allow large ships to load and offload goods. Recently, it’s been beautifully restored and in the summer months, you will find locals doing bombs into the azure waters below.

3. Te Waha O Rerekohu, Aotearoa’s Oldest Pōhutukawa Tree

Two people standing in front of the largest pohutukawa tree

Caption: The oldest Pōhutukawa tree in New Zealand stretches its branches across the sky. Credit: www.newzealand.com

Imagine a tree old enough to have been around when Moa roamed Aotearoa – that’s the age of Te Waha-o-Rerekohu, New Zealand’s oldest pōhutukawa tree.

Standing on the grounds of the local school at Te Araroa, a tiny coastal settlement at the north end of the cape and the birthplace of Sir Āpirana Ngata himself, it’s a huge, healthy, and bushy specimen.
It’s at its most stunning around Christmas time when bright red flowers adorn its 600 year-old branches. Please visit https://ngataongaohinerupe.com/ for local tours of the area.

4. East Cape Lighthouse

East Cape Lighthouse aerial shot over the water

Take a 22km, no-exit gravel road from Te Araroa to reach the most easterly point in Aotearoa, which is where the East Cape Lighthouse stands proudly 154m above sea level.

Accessed by a walking track of more than 700 steps, the exertion is well worth the views at the top. Afterward, consider cooling off for a dip at one of the many golden beaches just nearby. It’ll be the perfect end to your stunning journey to the East Cape.

The hours tend to go a little slower on Aotearoa’s East Cape. Make the time to explore this little-known region of New Zealand and its many gems before or after your Te Urunga Sunrise Experience with us.

October 20, 2021


Happy New Year! While each and every sunrise is a magical moment we never get tired of, there’s something extra special about the first sunrise of the year, a sign of a prosperous and fulfilling year ahead 👐☀🌄

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #newzealand #nzmustdo #happynewyear
Meri Kirihimete from the Maunga Hikurangi team 🎅🎄 We hope you all have a fantastic festive season with all your loved ones, friends and family!

📷: @nzstuff

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #newzealand #nzmustdo #merikirihimete #nzchristmas
Hikurangi Maunga Track Closed 🚫

Tena tatau, we wish to advise that the Hikurangi track, hut and the Maunga Hikurangi tours are closed until further notice. This closure will be reviewed in early 2022, please check for track status updates on the Maunga Hikurangi website and the Department of Conservation website (search for DOC Hikurangi). 

Ngā manaakitanga, Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou & Pakihiroa Farms Ltd
The nine carvings that stand on top of Maunga Hikurangi represent the legends of Maui and his whanau.

Maui, the founding ancestor of the Ngati Porou people, tells his story through these pou.

See the intricate and exceptionally detailed carvings with your own eyes to truly experience the telling of the legends for yourself.

📷: @mate_szecsei 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
The views are endless as you hike Maunga Hikurangi. A great tip from Lisa: ‘Bring plenty of layers, a sense of adventure, and coffee for the sunrise. Leave at home the fear of heights if you can.’

A challenging hike that is well worth the effort. You may even get to see some iconic kiwi wildlife as you head up there. 🐑⛰

📷: @lisaexploreku

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Dreaming of visiting Maunga Hikurangi? Put the hike on your summer to-do list!

Find your adventure streak, and tackle the maunga so you can be at the top when the first ray of light makes its way over the horizon. 🌄

📷: @travelphotoskiwi 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Nothing beats a golden sunrise! ☀ The views over the mountainous ranges look stunning as the light fills the sky. 

📷: @the_wanderer_photographer 

#tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
If you’re travelling along the East Coast this season, add Te Waha o Rerekohu – the largest Pohutukawa Tree in New Zealand – to your list of sightseeing activities! Pop into a local café on your way to your next destination 🌳🏖

📷: @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa #tewahaorerekohu #pohutukawa
As winter fades, the misty maunga is changing to welcome the earlier sunrises that spring is bringing! ⛰

Our tour up Mount Hikurangi to watch the sun rise over the surrounding mountains and valley is even more stunning during this time of year. 

Find out more here about our Te Urunga Sunrise Experience on our website. 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa
Mountain mist surround Irawhaaki, one of the nine carvings on Mount Hikurangi.

We are looking forward to sharing his story with you once we reopen our Maunga Hikurangi tours at level 1. 

Until then, stay safe in your bubble and enjoy the extra time you have to soak up the sunshine when it makes an appearance.

📷: Eric Hanson for @purenewzealand 

#nzspring #tairawhitigisborne #maungahikurangi #mthikurangi #firstlight #gisborne #sunrise #aotearoa