We started out early (for us) at 7:30ish for a long day of driving along part of the East Cape of the North Island. Our first stop was in Whakatane (pronounced fah-kah-tah-neh) for some bacon and egg pies and coffees. As we drove out of town we noticed a lot of walkers and runners on the road with numbers on their shirts. We took a side road up to a viewpoint (we try to stop at every one we see!) and asked a volunteer what was the function. It is an annual fundraising challenging walk/run called Toi’s Challenge, an 18km (11 mile) route that takes the runners up over the viewpoint and back into town. We were happy to drive up!
We continued along the coast past Opotiki where Highway 2 cuts across the cape to Gisborne. After that there are virtually no roads into the interior! About a 40 minute drive further we crossed the Motu river. It looks almost like the braided rivers that flow out of glaciated valleys, but there are no glaciers here! I think that storms just scour out the steep valleys in torrents once in awhile!
Somewhere up in the interior mountains is Mount Hikurangi, a sacred place to the local Maori. It is the highest non-volcanic mountain on the north island and purportedly “the first land in the world to catch the rays of the new day’s sun”, open to interpretation!…According to Wikipedia. Further past the Motu river we came to a wide open stretch of beach and a lonely old building.
Just down the road is a much newer complex of buildings, the Otuwhare Marae at Omaio. A marae (pronounced mar-i) is explained here.