Makorori Beach near Gisborne, Eastland. © davidwallphoto.com

Pacific Coast Highway: the long way round


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

‘What’s 300 kilometres?’ is the classic understatement uttered by many a novice as they make their way out of Opotiki on State Highway 35, heading to Gisborne ‘the long way round’.

Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this winding, narrow slice of bitumen is a revelation. It’s one that you’ll want to take time to explore: more than a highway, this is a gateway. Here’s where you can get on with getting away from it.

Curving around the East Cape, it (mostly) hugs the coast and embraces an array of experiences and environments along the way.

Driftwood-strewn beaches abound on the exterior reaches of the highway, while the hidden interior is a completely different prospect, a place of dense bush, rushing, clear rivers and sheer gorges.

This is a part of New Zealand where a true, strong and hard-kept Maori presence can be experienced: it’s distinctive, rural and worthy of respect. If you’ve seen the internationally acclaimed Whale Rider, which was filmed largely in one of the eastern bays here, well, it’ll give you an idea of the texture of the place. But you’ve got to come here to get how it is here, you hear?

The road is a story in itself. Carved by sheer determination out of this rugged landscape it is often steep, narrow and unashamedly challenging, whether you’re taking it on by car, bike or campervan. And watch out for horses – while they are part of the exotic landscape, they are also a genuine mode of transport in this rugged, rural haven. If you’re around over Christmas/New Year the Tolaga Bay Beach Races are legendary and will give you a real taste of why this region is so different and delightful. And if you don’t stop for a fish off Tolaga Bay Wharf, New Zealand’s longest, you’ve really missed the point.

The point is to be unhurried. Yep, moving at a good pace, you’ll knock off those 300km in six to eight hours. But why would you want to? There is so much here that’s so different to anywhere else in the country, you’re going to want to slow down and soak it up.

Explore more...


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Out and about

Eastland Tairawhiti: first to see the light

Poverty Bay is one of the most fertile areas of New Zealand, famous for its luscious chardonnay wine and its fruit and vegetables, which flourish in the rich, alluvial soils here and in the abundant sunshine, writes Justine Tyerman.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Gisborne: close to heaven

Gisborne has what the rest of the world has lost . . . or is looking for writes Justine Tyerman.    Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Eastland: sun, sand and seclusion

State Highway 35 is your key to over 300km of gloriously underpopulated coastline. Read the story . . . 

Where to stay in Gisborne

From $100
Highway Motel

Highway Motel is situated at the entrance to Gisborne city at Makaraka, just a 5-minute drive to the city centre, beaches, golf courses and all . . . More . . . 

From $100
From $85
Endeavour Lodge Motel

Endeavour Lodge Motel in the heart of Gisborne city is small and friendly motel accommodation and we offer spacious studio and 1 bedroom units. . . . More . . . 

From $85

Book now

Book now

4.7 /5
From $105
4.7 /5
Best Price Around
Asure Alfresco Motor Lodge

Alfresco Motor Lodge offers you 14 spacious well-appointed units, serviced daily: 10 studio (sleep 1-3), 2 x 1-bedroom (sleep 2-4), 2 x 2-bedroom (sleep 2-7). . . . More . . . 

From $105

Book now

Book now

4.7 /5
4.7 /5
Best Price Around
Eastwoodhill Arboretum

A 30-minute drive from Gisborne, Eastwoodhill is New Zealand's largest and finest collection of exotic trees and shrubs. Easy walking tracks for all levels of fitness. . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now