East Cape, Opotiki, 17.05.2019
We awoke to a challenge. The camping gods had betrayed us. The discovery that we were all but out of cooking gas (and therefore the means to make tea!) could not have come at a worse time. This particular stretch of the East Cape is one of the most remote parts of a relatively under-populated island. As a result, filling stations are few and far between so we were forced to shelve our slow and steady strategy for this leg of the tour and make to fateful decision to head straight to Opotiki.
This near four hour drive covers an area that is known for being scenic and peaceful. If I’m being honest, we both found it rather infuriating. The day started off well enough with a visit to St Mary's Church in Tikitiki- a plain affair from the exterior, but venture inside and you will find an intricately carved Maori treasure trove.
Unfortunately, this also marked the end of any points of interest along the remainder of this grueling part of our tour. The result was a full day of driving on a sickeningly bland road with zero opportunity for breaks. We stopped once, at Waihau (Why?! How?!) Bay for a horrendous coffee (warm milk) and no food, before reluctantly continuing. The area is famous as it’s the filming location of hit kiwi movie, “Boy”, directed by Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark). The film is definitely worth a watch and comes across like a budget Wes Anderson production. Don't bother visiting the set though.
We finally made it to Opotiki and did what we needed to do before having a nap and heading to an Irish bar. We caught the Friday night Super Rugby and sat by a fire, where beer and Bailey's helped to numb the day's woes. Unexpectedly, we had chosen to stay at a particularly grotty campsite fully of kiwifruit pickers. A bit gross, but a few people actually spoke to us! The next day, however, would bring a repeat of that same journey as we made our way back towards the eastern-most point on the landmass.