East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island

After leaving Rotorua, we drove towards the East Coast as we wanted to visit the beautiful cities Gisborne and Napier. But first we made a detour to the eastern part of the Bay of Plenty.

Ohope Beach

The small town Whakatane lies directly on the beautiful Ohope Beach, a wide and shallow sandy beach in the Bay of Plenty.

Here we could choose between two free campsites and we finally decided to stay at Maraetotara Reserve. On the way there we saw a small supermarket, which was within walking distance to our campsite. In order to enjoy the great view on the beach with a bottle of good wine, we first took a little walk there. Afterwards we enjoyed ourselves with some vegetarian burgers and the two purchased wine bottles. Just sitting there, chatting and listening to the sound of the sea was just perfect 😉 The weather was super nice as well and the sun was shining from the almost cloudless sky. And because “humidity” evaporates in such a weather situation we had to go to the supermarket in the late afternoon again to refill our wine supplies 🙂

Via the Pacific Coast Highway to Napier

We started slowly into the next day and had a nice breakfast.

View in the morning from the inside of our campervan

Afterwards we drove on the Pacific Coast Highway towards Opotiki. But shortly after our start we had almost finished the trip again to spend the rest of the day at the free camping site at Waiotahi Beach. It was just so beautiful there!

Waiotahi Beach

But after a short photo stop we pushed ourselves and moved on. Unfortunately this was not the first time that we have to leave such a beautiful place behind way too fast… because as stupid as it may sound, 40 days roadtrip exclusively for the North Island of New Zealand are (at least for us) much too short! After all, we weren’t even halfway to Wellington in the south. And from there we wanted to go back to the north of New Zealand. So we left the Pacific Coast Highway and took the “shortcut” via Interstate 2 to Gisborne.

On the way to Gisborne

In the small village Matawai in the mountains we found a cheap campground with power and internet. We were happy about having a powered campsite, because in the evening it got cooler and during the night it even started to freeze. So it was time again to get our heater out.

The next day we went back to the coast and the Pacific Coast Highway. Before that we filled up our supplies at the large supermarket Countdown in Gisborne.

A little south of Gisborne there was the next free parking place for us: the Oraka Reserve.

Skippy and Rocky are quite excited
Oraka Reserve


Again unbelievably beautiful and again it was very sad that we couldn’t stay much longer.

And that is why we decided to shorten our originally planned tour drastically. Wellington and the whole south of the North Island will be cancelled from our route. We won’t go further down than to Napier. Hereby we will save more than 1.000 kilometres and gain a lot of time.

Napier – The Art Deco City

Arriving in Napier we celebrate our decision a little bit and after a walk on the beach and through the city we arrive in the very nice Station Bar, order a very tasty Syrah and afterwards a big portion of fries. We liked the many vegetarian dishes on the menu so much that we decided to have breakfast there the next morning.

VEGETARIAN BENNIE: Eggs benedict with hollandaise

We really liked Napier. Especially the city centre with its park and the promenade by the sea; everything was spotless and we were allowed to camp here for free 🙂

National Aquarium of New Zealand

Woman with dog – on the traffic lights and as a statue


Campground, Lucy, Rocky, Skippy
Via the Forgotten World Highway to Lake Taupo
From Hawke’s Bay back to Rotorua

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