East Coast Beach Lovers Roadie
It features on many bucketlists to do an East Coast Roadie on SH35. There are so many things to do on the way between Gisborne and Tauranga. Be sure to take your time, explore, meet the locals, try the flavours and see the sights on the way – it will make you want to get out more!
Start your adventure in Tairāwhiti, Gisborne with a visit to any one of the beaches around the city of Gisborne for a dip in the water. If you are up for a surf lesson, there are many incredible surf instructors here.
Pick your choice of accommodation for the evening – from retreats to boutique hotels, cozy motels and holiday parks on the beach means there is much to choose from! Spend the evening at a cellar door for a platter and wine tasting, or head to Sunshine Brewery for the spot to be for some delicious wood-fired pizzas and tasty local brews either onsite or takeaway.
Start the next day with a hearty brunch before heading off to Tolaga Bay Wharf for a stroll along NZ’s longest historic wharf.
After that, continue north to Tokomaru Bay – known by locals as ‘the centre of the universe’. Check out the historic wharf and then settle in for dinner and a room at Te Puka Tavern – with million-dollar views of the vast Pacific Ocean, it will be hard to leave.
An early start the next morning as you head for Ruatoria for a guided tour with Maunga Hikurangi. There is no better way to start your day upon the sacred mountain as the first to see the sunrise for the day. Knowledgeable guides speak the stories of why this mountain is so special to the people of Ngati Porou.
Continue the adventure along State Highway 35 with many little hidden spots to explore. In Te Araroa you’ll find the largest Pо̄hutukawa tree and a delicious café that specialises in Manuka production. Take the 800 step challenge up to the stunning East Cape Lighthouse for spectacular views to the most eastern point of NZ – it’s worth the climb!
Spend the day in Hicks Bay or venture round to Waihau Bay; either way you will have a stunning outlook, great kai, and a peaceful night.
Continue the beach hop with the drive down SH35, where every corner gives another breath-taking view, and with many sheltered coves you will be spoilt for choice if you want to stop for a swim as you head towards the Bay of Plenty Region.
Ōhiwa Harbour- Enjoy a relaxing day fishing amongst marvelous scenery at Ōhiwa Harbour or take a guided kayak tour with KG Kayaks. At high tide you can paddle up to the Ōhiwa Oyster Farm for a taste of their famous seafood chowder or get delicious takeaways.
Moutohorā Island Sanctuary tour – Moutohorā/Whale Island is a pest-free oasis that is home to a number of New Zealand’s rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles. Board Moutohorā Island Sanctuary tour’s comfortable catamaran for an easy cruise to the island before being taken on a fully-guided tour of the island. Keep an eye out for endangered New Zealand birds as you journey through the regenerated native bush, before digging yourself a soothing geothermal spring pool at Onepū Bay, Moutohorā’s secluded hot water beach. This is your opportunity to see New Zealand’s wildlife as nature intended it and discover one of New Zealand’s little-known treasures.
Stay: White Island Island Rendezvous is a 4.5 star motel accommodation nestled between the Whakatāne River and a Pohutukawa tree lined escarpment. Enjoy your stay in one of the micro-village cabins and enjoy breakfast at the onsite café – a favourite amongst locals.
If you’re after raw, untouched coastal beauty, pay a visit to Newdicks Beach. Located near magical Maketū (about 30 minutes from Tauranga), take the privately-owned gravel road down to the shore (be sure to bring $5 per car or $8 per motorhome for the honesty box). Surfers will love the punchy waves but take note of the secluded location – there are no lifeguards or amenities around.
Visit the number one beach in New Zealand – Main Mount Beach – and see beautiful Mauao (Mount Maunganui), one of the Bay of Plenty’s most significant landmarks. Walk the 40-minute base track or climb to the summit for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Take an exciting V8 Trike Tour along Mount Main Beach. A perfect introduction to this stunning area.
SUP lesson and guided tour of Mauao with East Coast Paddler – Immerse yourself in Māori culture and stories with a hikoi (guided walk) around Mauao – a beloved mountain in Mount Maunganui. Discover how Māori lived centuries ago as local guides share legends and history. Learn about current environmental efforts to keep Mauao and the surrounding ocean waters pristine and look out for marine life as you enjoy the beauty of this stunning coastal walk – one of the most popular short walks in New Zealand. Hit the water for a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson as the crew at East Coast Paddler share their love of the ocean with you.
Stay: You can’t get closer to the beach than Pāpāmoa Beach Resort. They’ve got camping, glamping, luxury villas or the classic Kiwi bach for your ultimate beach getaway.
To complete your East Coast odyssey visit and stay at Anzac Bay – a Pōhutukawa-lined beach with calm turquoise waters. The shoreline is protected by abundant native bush so it’s a great spot for a quiet picnic, a snorkel or an easy stand-up paddleboard. Plus, there’s a playground, a boat ramp and lots of space for a cricket game or a laze in the sun.
Stay: Local campground Bowentown Beach Holiday Park is fantastic spot for families and offers cabin, campsites and motel units