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East Cape

It's New Zealand's best kept secret - a paradise for nature lovers with abundant tracts of wilderness, golden beaches, sparkling lakes and tumbling rivers.

Locals will tell you that this is the 'Real New Zealand' - the way it used to be. East Cape is the first place in the world to greet the morning sun. Here is a treasure trove of Maori tradition, including Mt Hikurangi, the highest non-volcanic mountain in New Zealand.

Take time to discover the beauty and peace of this very remote region. East Cape has many hidden treasures in the remote valleys of the Raukumaras.

The East Cape offers a slow, peaceful existence to those who reside there, and an equally relaxed, enchanting place for its visitors. With few harbours and a mountainous, wild bush interior, the Cape has been isolated for many years until the road network was completed. Inhabited predominantly by Maori, Gisborne and the Cape region place great emphasis on the retention of their culture and traditions - it is here you will hear Te Reo Maori (the Maori language) being spoken fluently and freely.

Whitewater Wilderness

Escape to the North Island's exciting East Cape region for a thrilling whitewater adventure.

The 'Mighty Motu'. Our first gazetted Wild and Scenic River. The Motu River rafting trip is a premier whitewater wilderness journey hosted in the North Island. It winds 100 km through remote, mountainous country in the Raukumara Range.

Commercial rafting companies based in Rotorua and Auckland run 3 - 4 day expeditions on the Motu. The scenery in the gorges is breathtaking and the feeling of remoteness and isolation here is tangible. Rare birds such as the kokako, blue duck, kaka, parakeet, kiwi and falcon can be seen or heard.

The put in is on Waitangirua Station below Motu Falls, which is reached via Matawai on S.H.2. The take out is below the bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway. Summer time is recommended for a multi-day trip, when Grade 3 water can be expected. Flood conditions can boost the level of difficulty to Grade 4 or 5.

The Waioeka River runs alongside S.H.2 (Opotiki to Gisborne) for some distance offering pleasant Grade 1 - 2 rapids. The put in is at Wairata, and just below the Wairata Stream junction is Hell's Gate, a long rapid that can reach Grade 4 in high flows and drops 2 metres. Below Hell's Gate the river runs in a consistent flow over a shingle bed and is ideal water for beginners. Take out before the settlement of Matahanea. The Lower Waioeka is picturesque with virgin bush lining the river and clear trout pools at intervals.

Surfing is popular on the beaches north of Gisborne, and the state forest parks of Ruatoria, Raukumara, Urutawa and Waioeka offer numerous walking tracks. The tracks afford wonderful views, a highlight for some being an overnight stay on Mt Hikurangi to see the first light of the new day - another spot made famous at the time of the new millennium. Some areas of the parks are even penetrable on mountain bike - but be warned, many parts are not! White water rafting is available on the Waioeke and Motu Rivers providing yet another thrilling finale to a relaxing sector of your holiday!

The coastal road is winding 'tour of discovery', providing spectacular views of a wild coastline interspersed with picturesque little bays, inlets and coves. Dozens of clear freshwater streams flow through stunning gorges from the mountains and in the summer months are greeted at the shoreline by the bright crimson blooms of the pohutakawa trees. Popular for fishing, diving and boating this must surely be one of the county's best-kept secrets! Beautiful beaches contrast dramatically with rugged cliffs and rocky outcrops providing the perfect home to what seems to be an abundance of crayfish!

Gisborne is a major wine-producing region. Tours are available taking in the larger wineries, and some of the smaller companies also welcome visitors. The Gisborne Museum houses displays relating to east coast Maori and colonial history, as well as geology and natural history exhibits. One of the country's largest Maori meeting houses, Te Poho-o-Rawiri, has a richly decorated interior and is located at the base of Titirangi (Kaiti Hill). This hill is also home to 'The World's Easternmost Observatory', the Cook Observatory. The superb beaches offer good swimming, fishing and surfing and attract a wealth of bird life including stilts, oyster catchers and other sea birds.

Between Gisborne and Rotorua, the Urewera National Park protects part of the largest native forest area in the North Island. Most visitors walk the Waikaremoana Track, (sea of rippling waters), one of New Zealand's Great Walks around an amazing lake of the same name. Birds, trout, deer and other wildlife are plentiful in the park - take time to observe them by boat or on the walks, which vary from half an hour to several days. The main track is rated easy with five huts conveniently spaced along the route - but at peak times it is wise to carry a tent! Kayaking is also available, even a tramp-paddle option allows a little variety and a different perspective on the Lake and it's glorious surrounds.

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