Bay of Plenty -> East Cape

We missed the last bus at 6.23 pm out of Tauranga… so we followed the road signs in order to get to Hwy 2 towards Whakatane. When we left the city via Cameron st we just could not resist using the Domino’s Pizza docket to obtain a cheaper pizza. I haven’t had a (good) pizza in ages and with the thin base even Amanda could eat it! Enough reason?!
We ended up camping in a road reserve along the highway still in the suburbs.

Crossing another harbour arm the next day revealed views of the city across the water - the road had taken us on a giant horse shoe like detour!
Our urban hike continued as we wanted to start hitching past the turn-off to Mt Maunganui on HWY 2 which just didn’t seem to come any closer. Kiwi and other fruit orchards lined the road, a stadium on the right. Finally we got to the turn-off and I put my thumb out. A ute pulled over, the friendly driver took us to Te Puke, and gave us a whole box of gold kiwi fruit from the big cold store he managed. Lunch time with half a dozen kiwis and a couple sandwiches on the golf course.
Next stop-over was in Opotiki from where we got a lift with a girl (+ mate) that lived in the same weird country town as Amanda around the same time and knew the same even weirder people… small world.
She and her mate took us to Hawai, where they were staying at a small campground. We decided to put up camp for the night here as well; the sun was just setting and the next place where we would be able to camp some 30 km away.
Everybody was really friendly. We were given tea, a smoked Kahawai (Salmon) and in the morning another freshly caught Kahawai, some Venison from the last hunting trip and a bunch of silverbeet.
We left this cosy place in the afternoon and walked along the winding road over hills and past rugged bays till a van stopped and German Fabian picked us up. When the sun was about to go down he pulled into a little free ‘private’ campground. We collected driftwood for a fire and he tried his luck fishing.
He stayed on when we left the next afternoon, still trying to catch some edible fish. We made our way to Te Araroa from where a dirt road leads to the rugged East Cape. Dusk was just setting in when a truck picked us up and took us the best bit of the 21 km road on its last run to pick up sand from the beach. The wind made putting up the tent a real challenge, at least it wasn’t raining!
We got up at around 9 am and were packed/ready to go by 10 … that is record time for us! ;)
The wind pushed us over the last few kilometers to the cape carpark (w/ toilet). Amanda stayed there to have some lunch and draw/paint while I walked up the ca. 750 steps to the lighthouse. Nice views from the top make this short climb worth it.

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