The East Cape of New Zealand’s North island has a lot going for it. Driftwood fringed beaches jut up against towering cliffs and deserted roads. Spectacular vistas lie around every corner. And it is perhaps the most Maori influenced part of all New Zealand – the closest one may come to seeing how New Zealand may have ended up had the Brits not landed a couple of centuries ago.
History is all over the place here. It was here that Captain Cook landed back in the 18th century, and it was also here that the first Maori canoes, or wakas, landed over eight hundred years ago.
Despite all of this, a woeful 1% of visitors to New Zealand make it out to the East Cape. On our trip, it wasn’t hard to see why. The roads, where they exist and haven’t been washed off the cliff faces, are winding and long. Distances take a while to achieve. But the rewards are entirely worth it.
From historical piers, to Maori maraes, to unbelievable vistas and black sanded beaches, to the landing points of Captain Cook and the scenery from New Zealand classics such as The Whale Rider, the East Cape really is a place that should be on more visitors itineraries. Rather than going on about this in words, here are a number of photos to help explain what I mean. Enjoy.
The shell studded black sand beach of Tolaga Bay
Horses roam freely in many parts, here by the beautifully picturesque Raukokore Church. Penguins nest on the shore here.
The shores of most of the beaches we visited were littered with driftwood, a result of the three weeks of torrential damaging rain that had just taken place.
The road to the East Cape lighthouse, the most easterly point of mainland New Zealand and the first place on earth to see the sunrise.
Maori culture is front and centre of East Cape life, and this Maori carving is an example of the art that is on display everywhere you look as you travel around.
The cliffs of Tolaga Bay at sunset. Not far from here is Cooks Cove, where Captain Cook made his second landing onto New Zealand soil.
The sand on these beaches is really quite remarkably dark. Here is a picture of a rock to help show that 😉
Finally, Tolaga Bay Wharf at sunset. At 660 metres long, this claims to be the longest wharf in the Southern Hemisphere.
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Hilde Swets says
Followed your advise and did a 5 day trip to the East Coast! Loved the hike to Captains Cook Cove. The beautifull bays are so relexing. Enjoyed the talks with some locals. And the drive to the lighthouse is just fab!
Placed some pics on my Instagram account @bluehillies
Fantastic Hilde – pleased you enjoyed it 🙂
La Ines says
thanks so much! u gave me some useful tips for my new year’s trip =)
Rob Crawford says
So glad you managed to get out to the East Cape Laurence. It sure is another world but one that is unlike any other location in NZ. Very special place.
Hey Rob, it sure was. It’s a bit off the usual north island route, but absolutely worth taking the time to see 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂
Cam Wears says
Some great photos Laurence!
Sandal Road says
Awesome that you got to go to the East Cape. I intend to make it part of my next trip to New Zealand. I’ve never been to that part before, but my friend keeps reminding me that I missed out on what he thinks is one of the most beautiful parts of NZ. Your pictures certainly confirm that.
Many thanks. It was really a highlight of the trip so far, just spectacular
stuff. And so few people make it out there that it is really uncrowded 🙂
Amanda Williams says
Amazing! Makes me want to turn around and head back to NZ right away!
Do it 😉
Dave and Deb says
Great post guys. We loved New Zealand and you have done a fabulous job capturing it in your images!
Cheers guys! We’re off to the South island today, really looking forward
to taking more shots 🙂