Saturday, 23 January 2010

Whakatane, Opotiki, the Cape to Tokomura Bay

Whakatane is quite a town, extraordinary physical features, the river mouth has a large rock with a sculpture on it and some wicked waves. Downtown a huge sacred rock outcrop, the Pohaturoa, covered in Puhutukawahs and various other native vegetation commemorates a Maori chief and was the site of baptisms and other rites. I drove up Seaview Rd, steep and narrow, stopped at a lookout and took pictures in the rain. Oh did I say it was raining? Yikes! Thunder and lightening, huge drops and waves of torrential downpouring, all day. I have pictures to prove it. The place has charm for sure and is a big tourist destination, I watched 3 large cruisers returning from White Island (New Zealand's most active volcano), likely all full of sightseers.
Amazing how a day can go by without accomplishing much... Continuing east I stopped at Ohope and Kutarere. I met a fellow from Cedar a couple years ago Greg I think, and he told me about his farm, Macadamia nut orchard, avocados and citrus, it (among others) inspired me to make this journey. I went looking and I think I found it.
Still raining and overcast so my pictures are grey. Saw another Harrier, I have seen many of these hawklike birds soaring around the country and at the side of the road standing over some bit of fresh carrion. Quite impressive. When I stopped it took off of course. Massive rollers on the beaches, a tropical storm may be affecting them and is the likely cause of all this unseasonal rain. The surfers are happy. I spent the night at Opotiki then in the morning I head east towards the "first place the sun shines" East Cape, the most easterly light house in NZ.
First though, I attempted to do the library, not open till 10... "On the road again" heading east I stopped at so many lookouts, vistas and amazing beaches snapping picture after picture. As per a request (I do occasionally take requests) I had my photo taken at a lookout, by one of 4 women doing the Cape drive. They said "see you later", but seems unlikely since I seem to stop about every 10 minutes to capture yet another stunning view.
A mite peckish this morning, the sun helped lift my mood and I finished off a chocolate bar. Each new corner another fabulous vista. I saw a place I think I could live at, such a comfortable feeling, great beach, nicely arable land and the mountains in the background (mind you it all seems to look like this!) I stopped at small bay where a fellow was setting up his 3 kids to go fish, practice in the stream for the challenge of casting into the surf when they are bigger. Neat little coves and Backpacker signs everywhere. It means (I think) a place where backpackers might want to stay. As I got closer and closer to the cape the grandeur of the occasion never diminished. In fact with the road as narrow as it was it became quite an adventure crawling the 20 km around the cliffside into the valley behind and below the light house. Fields of GMO maize to feed their livestock, all the same colour, height and I assume variety. But what a view from up there! Blue sky, clouds and the vast ocean stretching all the way to North and South America, the South Island and Australia. Not visible of course, just endless waves, breakers crashing onto East Island and up and down both coastlines. Another picture from a fellow tourist, this one from Austria.
Onward, no camping at the light house or environs so no catching the first sun rays of the day before anyone else.
Around the corner I go heading more southerly towards Tikitiki and Whakawhitira where two pigs sauntered across the road. Luckily I had warning and caught them walking past the van up a track to home I suppose.
I took a secondary road to Wapiro Bay, then at Tokomaru Bay drove right to the end of the road, Waima, where an Ice plant used to be. The town has never been the same. A huge long pier for loading and lots of very old brick buildings and not much else except a huge cliff with "slips" or landslide/cave ins. None of the accomodation appealed to me so I set up above the beach at a Freedom Campsite, permit required (I had none) chatted with a fellow walking down the beach , read, ate, had a beer and went to sleep to the roar of the surf.

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