We found ourselves on the north coast on the wonderful Ohope Beach on the Bay of Plenty looking at the map and deciding how to get down south to Wellington. The question was do we go all the way around the Eastlands on the coastal road or over the mountains to Gisborne via the Waioeka Gorge, time was the main factor so the Gorge route it was. But first we had to circumnavigate Ohiwa Harbour from Ohope around to Opotiki on the other side of the harbour. First it was goodbye for now to the north coast Bay of Islands and hello Hawkes Bay at the end of the day all the way down in Napier. Believe me its quiet a drive in one go, but here I’ve divided it into two post because hey, I take a lot of photographs.
From Opotiki heading inland at first it’s a straight road because the road builders must have had enough by the time they had finished rounding all those bends along the gorge, it gets twisty as the mountains we must cross begin to fill the windscreen. The Waioeka road follows the meandering river of the same name as we climb into the mountains.
We take the chance to stop at certain points along the Waioeka Gorge, firstly at Oponae river bridge to walk over. With the river gently flowing past below us and the surrounding hills thickly covered by trees, this place feels cut off from the world, no cafes or shop few houses or petrol stations. Further on we stop at Manganuku Campsite where we wander down to the bright stream, this is the site of a loop in the old road, the original wooden bridge is still spanning the stream.
5th January 2017
The highway crosses over from the Bay of Plenty and we start to drop down from the mountains to join our second river of the day, the Waipaoa in Te Karaka, we follow the river as it takes on into the coastal town of Gisbourne for some late lunch on the waterfront gazing out onto Poverty Bay.
January 5th 2017
Check out : The Hard Drive Cafe in Matawai heading into Gisbourne the first sign post was way back on the north coast, not much inbetween.
Where : Waioeka Gorge Highway 2 from Opotiki to Gisborne
Travelling : Highway 2 over the Waioeka Gorge and down into Gisbourne about a 140 km drive.
Camping : Ohope Beach Top 10 directly onto the waterfront, great beach to wander or run along. The holiday park is quite a way from the cafes and bars of Ohope, situated out on the sand bank enclosing Ohiwa harbour. The camping ground is huge and very busy !
Next Up : Out to Mahia Peninsula