We discover the delights of the Bay of Plenty and discover and East Cape camping site
Fishoes and Tinnies
What a delight Hawkes Bay and and the Bay of Plenty have been – glorious beaches, friendly people, swimming and surfing. We discovered, a little too late to take full advantage, that between Gisborne and Tokomaru you can “Freedom Camp”. Gisborne council provide rubbish bags and a dump station at certain sites around the coast and for a $25 permit you can park at these sites for 10 nights. Our first three nights were spent at Tolaga Bay – glorious sandy beach with safe swimming and the longest wharf in New Zealand! We were parked about 20yds from the edge of beach and first thing every morning we went for a swim. We also got the Portabote out for the first time and rowed it up the river (that is the Royal “we” of course – I sat back and watched the world drift by whilst Jeremy rowed.....).
One thing at this time of year is that the fisho’s with their tinnies are out and about in great abundance. Fishing is probably the number one sport in New Zealand, with Snapper much prized (very delicious) and they fish from aluminium boats (tinnies) – these are often towed behind the buses and camper vans along with a quad bike to tow the boat down to the water. If no quad bike there seems to be an endless supply of old tractors that will do the job for you.
We headed North from Tolaga Bay to Kaiaua Beach; well if we thought Tolaga was beautiful we were blown away by the beauty of Kaiaua. It is an enormous beach of flat golden sand, with waves just right for boogie boarding. They had had horse racing there just the week before which I should think was “awesome”!
From Kaiaua we went to Tokomaru which had a great long stretch of mowed grass right along the beach for us to camp on. Where did we choose? Right beside a local family, obviously there for the entire summer who chose that night to have a party. Dozens of people turned up, the music pounded away, they started to sing.... We didn’t feel brave enough to confront them and it wasn’t until around 5 a.m. that a local resident came rocketing out of his house, shouting and swearing and things quietened down. It sort of coloured our judgement of Tokomaru, but I would like to go back – again, a glorious beach in a very pretty location.
The East Cape then beckoned and after a night at a camp site (we try to avoid these where possible – too many ankle biters racing around on bikes and playing football.....!) where we washed clothes, emptied everything out and filled everything up, we drove out to the lighthouse at the end of East Cape. What a wild place. To start with the road is “unsealed” so lots of shaking around and dust; the “beach” at the beginning of the road was just rock – volcanic in origin, lots of weird shapes but then long long stretches of white sand and the Pacific roaring in. The lighthouse was 765 steps up (yes, I was that sad person....) with amazing views at the top. On the way to the lighthouse we had passed The East Cape Camping Site (writ large on a big board). We pulled in on the way back and decided we had to stop there. It was just a large mowed field but with water taps and rubbish drums – another notice informed us that it was $11.50 for the first night and $5.50 for subsequent nights (about £4.50 and £2.25). It was just beautiful!
As we set up camp we watched a family setting up a whole hamlet of tents down by the beach. We watched the sun going down and listened to the thundering surf as we enjoyed Happy Hour. We were then intrigued as a small campervan bounced its way across the field and settled for a position about 500 yds from us. A young man got out, Jeremy commented that he looked a little like Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame....