The Christmas craziness was looming – on the roads, but more so at work and I had a hankering to go to the East Cape – although this hankering is nothing new! We’d heard that there was some fair accommodation at the Tokomaru Bay pub where I hadn’t stayed for 16 years so we looked to head that way. We’ve recently discovered Villa 9 café in Te Aroha so headed there for brunch to give me a whole weekend out of the kitchen. The lovely people behind the counter asked where we were going – expecting (I think) that we might potter to Paeroa and back to Morrinsville. They were a bit taken aback when we told them where we were heading – brilliant!!

We were blessed with cracking weather and had a good run through the Rotorua lakes, via the Santa Parade in Kawarau and out along the BoP coastline. A mini detour around Ohiwa and around the back of Waiotahi and I’m chuckling in anticipation – the sun is shining, the back roads are brill and we’re heading to my happy place!

The East Cape road was in really good condition, the corners, the views and the wind flowing straight through my airflow jacket made for a truly awesome day out. I needed some new photos so we stopped at Omaio Bay to get some background scenery shots – its so unusual for us to stop except for fuel or coffee it was nice just to hang out on the beach for a few minutes. Through Lottin Point, the updated sign suggests that the motel has now been renovated – this was validated by Neil later that night – so expect a trip out there sometime soon too.

Stopping to take more photos on the point above Hicks Bay, we spotted Neil passing through and we caught him at Te Puia Springs where we all stopped for a petrol top up and a smoothie to take some heat out of the day.

On to Tokomaru Bay and the driveway to the Backpackers initially looked a bit daunting up a steep gravel drive but was actually fine – we’d shunned the fairly pricey / large apartments at the pub for some nifty, affordable, quirky cabins at the backpackers with super rewarding views and a lovely landlady. Here we found Ray who we hadn’t seen for 9 years and had decided to join us at the last minute. We happily helped Ray finish his fish and chips and headed for the pub. I made a beeline for the sea to wade up through the surf – camera and shoes in hand. The boys started ambling up the road but had barely gone 10 paces when a local bundled them into his ute to give them a lift to the pub.

A couple of beers in and one of the local logging contractors was holding Christmas drinks at the pub – nice guy, turns out his dad rode with the Rusty Nuts back in the day and Neil knew him… small world.

Tokomaru Bay; Stranded in Paradise backpackers + Te Puka Tavern + walk on the beach + Four Square for a SH35 T Shirt + petrol if you need it. What more do you need for a weekend??

The return trip on Sunday was just as awesome – breakfast at Aunty’s cafe within the Tolaga Bay Inn, coffee and complementary slices (left over from a party the previous night) at the Tiniroto Tavern and an awesome run down the Tiniroto road, through Wairoa and on to Whirinaki. The slow traffic on the Napier Taupo was sent as penance for the fun we had been having and we grabbed a fairly average, but much needed dinner on Taupo lakefront before a clear run home through Waipapa and up Old Taupo Road. We rolled in home as the rain started; within an hour it was a fully fledged storm and the power and internet died and finally got restored the following afternoon… We timed that just perfectly.

See you next time!

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$ New Zealand dollar