Thursday, September 7, 2017

East Cape Lighthouse: First In The World To See Sunrise

Today we returned to the central reason we love NZ. We are drawn to wild places and the stunning road to East Cape Lighthouse provided a much-needed respite from this last week's built environment. And the most gasp-out-loud moments since we left the South Island (our first love).

Wild horses on the road to the lighthouse

A 22 kilometre, mostly unsealed no-exit road from Te Araroa takes you to the most easterly point on mainland New Zealand. The road clings to the eastern coastline with constant stunning views.

Seal crossing

The views inland are breathtaking too.

The gravel road was interspersed with occasional short strips of paving.

I just asked the helpful woman where we're staying about the horses. She said many owners "turn them out" in winter. In other words, set them loose to fend for themselves.

The soul flies free out here.

I wanted to get out and walk every single one of these beaches...

That's kilometers

Lighthouse in view atop the hill.

Seal crossing...the beach.

We're here. Faithful readers will suspect we'll be crossing private farmland to reach the lighthouse.

Path to the gate and stairs--there are 800 up.

Magnificent bloom

Here we go...

Done--not yet to go.

Magnificent views makes it worth the pause (also, catching your breath).

This is the wildest coast we've seen to date on the North Island.

One more flight of stairs and it's suddenly upon us.

East Island, former home of the lighthouse

Down should be easier, but it's pretty brutal. I said as much to a couple of guys coming up. The first agreed and the second said: I don't know, you look pretty bloody fit to me! (I thanked him.)

On the drive back we looked at a remote campground fronting this beach.

Rain ahead, sun right here.

Te Araroa

In the tiny coastal settlement of Te Araroa you'll find Te Waha-o-Rerekohu, New Zealand's oldest and largest pohutukawa tree. It's around 600 years old, and stands proudly in the grounds of the local school. Te Araroa is the birthplace of Sir Apirana Ngata (ed note: a remarkable man--read more here), who made it his life’s goal to uplift the Maori race spiritually, culturally and economically.

It was a thrilling day. Here's the lighthouse location (click here to view map if reading in email).

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