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Published: August 14th 2020
There was a report on the radio last night that the local iwi at Te Kaha were thinking of closing Highway 35 if the PM moved the country to Level 3 or heaven forbid Level 4,had the COVID-19 cases that were emerging in Auckland increased dramatically.
This would have meant our chances of getting to Te Kaha a much more difficult exercise than what we had planned.Not that the BBA has not overcome adversity of this magnitude before when we remembered the Romanian/Hungarian border flag down by a police officer in 2013.And that time we saw the situation through and got to where we wanted to be after standing our ground !
With bunnies delivered to their carer for 4 days mid morning we headed east and were soon on the Eastern Toll road zipping along at 110kph under partly sunny skies and 14C temperature.
The challenge for us on this 4 day tour of the East Coast is to drive down as many side roads leading the east coast beaches that we hadn’t been to before.
First call was at Pukehina and we were surprised by the length of the housing strip that took us to the far end of the beach with the Pacific Ocean on the right and the placid Waihi estuary on the left.
Far off the coast the active volcano of White Island was relatively clear to us despite being some 40 to 50km away.The low humidity after the southerly wind change in the early morning left the air clear making the island easily clear and visible to us.
The next road was Nanric Lane which turned out to be a fizzer as it came to a dead end well before the beach and we think Mr Google needs to update his online map.
A little further on Rogers Road made a more interesting diversion with more upmarket beach homes sited above the beach with commanding views of the Pacific Ocean.
Through Matata and Thornton Beach Road following the Rangitaiki River to the coast was the next diversion for us.Here a well presented motor camp appeared to cater for families with a dozen or so chalets set out in their grounds.At the beach we were virtually in direct line with the smouldering White Island which was still very clear to the naked eye despite being so far off shore.
Then it was a stop at the Red Barn for coffee and a bite to eat for lunch before we drove through Whakatane,over the hill and down to Ohope Beach still with White Island well in view.
To keep to a 3pm arrival at TeKaha we left another couple of roads down to the seaside until we return through this area on Monday on our way home.
We were soon in Opotiki topping up the tank with petrol cheaper than we buy in Tauranga.
We now followed the coast more closely as we left Opotiki and it was here that we expected we might have met a road block had the local iwi wanted to keep travellers out if COVID-19 had gone up another level.Their aim of course is to protect their elderly and the nearest hospital is back in Whakatane with a long ambulance ride to get treatment so one can understand their anxiety.
However there was no road block and we made our way onto Te Kaha rising over headlands and then inland to cross several rivers which started their journey to the sea in the mountains that rose from the narrow coastal strip.
The hotel resort at Te Kaha was not built last time we passed this way 13 years ago.However the scenery west across the curved,tree lined bay hasn’t changed and it was great that the cloudy skies cleared enough to give a short vivid red sunset before darkness set in and it was time to wander down for dinner.
Tomorrow it is onto East Cape and then south to Anaura Bay with more side roads to cruise down and take in this special coastline that is quite unique and unspoilt.
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