© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Eastland Roadie: Tolaga Bay Wharf and Tikitiki Church

© NZPocketGuide.com

276 Days on the Road

This is it: Eastland coast sunrise #3! We’ve seen just how beautiful an Eastland sunrise is while surfing in Gisborne and we saw a stellar sunrise from Tatapouri with immense colours in the sky. Now we are in Stranded in Paradise, a hostel in Tokomaru Bay that have been specially designed so that every room is facing the coast and can see the sunrise.

We start working while it is still dark, sitting in the living area overlooking the hostel’s deck and out to the coast. Before we know it, the day has got slightly lighter (emphasis on the “slightly”) with a thick layer of grey clouds obstructing any magical sunrise that we were expecting. Damn you, New Zealand, and you’re ever-changing weather. They say New Zealand has “four seasons in a day”, which is true for parts of the country, but in places like Eastland, you’re more likely to expect four seasons in a week. By the end of the week, we’ll probably be seeing the beaming sunshine once again.

Racing with the rain

In the meantime, we have a couple of outdoor activities planned in Tolaga Bay a little further down the coast. Maybe we can make do them before the rain hits?

We wind our way through the forestry lands between Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay only to find that, damn, the rain has found us. We pass the Cook’s Cove Walkway hoping the rain stops by the time we pass it again.

New Zealand’s longest wharf

Instead, we park up at Tolaga Bay looking through the raindrops on our windscreen out to New Zealand’s longest wharf. It simply has to be walked when road tripping through the Eastland region, whether it’s raining or shining! (Plus, it doesn’t take too long to walk the 400m wharf so we can always run back if we need to).

The raincoats are on and we venture out into the elements, passing under and beautifully-carved archway with Maori designs. After walking through a short walkway of vibrantly green flax bushes, the rain stops for our walk onto the wharf. The Maori ancestors must have blessed us!

The beautiful coastline of Tolaga Bay

Quickly we realise that the walk on the wharf is actually a way to see some magnificent coastline. The further along the huge wharf we walk, the more distinct layers of rock in the sandy-coloured cliffs we can see! There are a couple of islands to be seen where the cliffs end. And we are to notice more things about these cliffs on the way back!

Living on the edge!

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Fish finds

The longest wharf in New Zealand finally comes to an end at a wider part of the wharf with no rails at the end. You could just jump off and go for a splash at this point. We look down into the turquoise waters to see thousands of little fish hanging around the waters’ surface only in one section at the end of the wharf. It must usually be a good feeding spot for them, but not today with so little people around, and especially not with us who are cheap-as backpackers with barely enough food to feed ourselves! (Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration).

On the way back along Tolaga Wharf, we notice heaps of little sea caves in the cliffs and even an archway that we can see all the way through.

We’ll hit you next time, Cook’s Cove

Once back to the car, we are having ourselves a nice picnic lunch while looking at the birds and the waves rolling in before the heaviest burst of rain cuts our picnic outside short. Don’t judge us too harshly, but we are not feeling the Cook’s Cove Walkway today. But we do have a pretty cool (and indoor) back-up plan for the drive up to Hicks Bay where we will be staying the night.

Tikitiki Church

It’s a lengthy drive through a mixture of forestry lands and native bush until we reach a tiny settlement called Tikitiki. Although small, the village does have a grand church that shouldn’t be missed!

After parking up, we walk up to the church on a hill and through a Maori-carved archway – our second time today! The doors to St Mary’s Church, or as it is more commonly known, Tikitiki Church, are open to the public to come and see what many consider as one of the finest Maori churches in New Zealand.

The most magnificent Maori church

Stepping inside the church, the architectural design mixed with a busy interior of Maori artwork takes our breath away. Each pew has a different carving of a person on the end, the walls are covered in carved panels joined by tukutuku (woven panels), the ceilings have panels painted patterns in red, white and black – each one different from the last, the stained-glass windows in similar patterns, and that’s not to mention all the carved sculptures. There are so many details to take in: only the polished wooden floor is a blank canvas.

A rainy night in Hicks Bay

Then we leave the church, through the gardens full of flowers and butterflies, and back to our car for the final leg to Hicks Bay. Our accommodation, the Hicks Bay Motel & Lodge, is just above the bay surrounded by bush and the sound of birds. After making some sandwiches in our room, (the lodge has very little kitchen facilities but does have a restaurant on site), we relax with a movie and some board games – a go-to rainy night activity, right?

Hopefully, the weather shifts for tomorrow when we plan to see the sunrise from the most eastern part of New Zealand, the East Cape Lighthouse, then make our way to Opotiki on an East Cape roadie! Join us then!

The incredibly-designed Tikitiki Church!

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