After all the rain we had yesterday, we are a little scared to look out of our door at the Hicks Bay Motel and look up at the sky. It’s 4.30am and we want to start our day watching the sunrise from New Zealand’s easternmost point, the East Cape Lighthouse. Luckily, we can actually see stars! Hurray! This means we are not completely clouded over, so there is a chance that we may see another spectacular sunrise in the Eastland region. Let’s go!
We pack up our stuff and jump in the car for the East Cape, an hour from Hicks Bay. Sunrise is at 7.09am, so we will get there in plenty of time. Although, rumour has it that there are 700 steps separating us from the East Cape Lighthouse too. As we are about to find out, those 700 steps are not the craziest part of our journey.
The Treacherous East Cape Road
Once we pass through a little town called Te Araroa, we drive onto the East Cape Road, which greets us with a huge board of warning signs: steep drops, falling rocks, gravel road, wandering stock, narrow sections, and whatever else. Gulp! Are we sure we really want to go down here?! Hell, we might not even make it to see the sunrise of Day 278 of our trip!
The East Cape Road is gnarly to say the least. It is more reminiscent to an old pack-horse road from New Zealand’s pioneering days rather than a road that shows up of Google Maps in the 21st Century! In a way, it’s a blessing that we can only see what our headlights allow.
Needless to say, we make the 19km East Cape Road journey without falling into the ocean or crashing into cows or whatever or getting flattened by a rock. If it wasn’t for the point on Google Maps and about three other cars parked alongside a paddock, we could have easily missed the East Cape Lighthouse walk. There is, however, a white sign semi-nestled in a bush telling us that there is, in fact, 800 steps to climb! Well after 700, what’s another 100 steps, really?