Campervans, tandem bikes, bocce & beaches: An epic East Cape expedition with Matt & Amy

A long-awaited Neilson-Cairns reunion has finally become reality!

It has been so special to reconnect with our dear friends, Matt and Amy Cairns, and share some grand times and exploits together in this glorious land flowing with milk, honey, and fish & chips.

We just got back from a epic, week-long camping adventure to NZ’s East Cape.  With our little Peugeot packed nearly to the rafters, the four of us ventured Eastward with thirst in our souls for escapades to tell the grandkids about someday.

Prior to our trip, we had spoken to many people who raved of the beauty of NZ’s Eastern regions, but had never been.  Being a bit off the beaten track of the usual North Island traffic flow, it is truly only those who intentionally make the journey East that get to experience its glorious splendor.

Full of its own unique quirks and beauty, and rich in Maori history, the East Cape certainly didn’t disappoint.

A large part of the drive along the East Cape is directly along the coastline, making for countless beaching possibilities and endless photo ops.  Not wanting to rush our journey, we took the opportunity to stop in most towns and villages along the way to explore various landmarks and uncover hidden gems.

Some stunning historic wharves, beautiful churches, and intricate Maori carvings were just a few of the treasures we stumbled upon.

We celebrated the two year anniversary of our arrival in NZ by being the first in the world to greet the sun on the morning of January 19, 2012.  Not sure what time the sun would rise, we thought we’d ask a local.  The cashier at the grocery store told us it rose around 4:30 or 4:45am, but that we also needed to consider that the lighthouse was a good 800 stair climb.  Determined not to miss the sunrise, we departed our campsite at 3:30am, and had arrived at the lighthouse and climbed to the top by 4:10am.  We were greeted with a black sky full of stars, as the rotating light of the lighthouse swirled above us.  It was magical.  And magical it was for about another hour and a half… until the blackness was invaded by pastel colors on the horizon.

We were fairly chilled and drowsy by the time the sun finally made its appearance around 6:15am, but it was sure worth it.  Had the woman at the grocery store not given us an extra early estimate of when the sun would rise, we may have missed out on experiencing the wonder of the East Cape lighthouse and night sky at 4am… so I suppose it all worked out for the best in the end.

To be continued…


3 thoughts on “Campervans, tandem bikes, bocce & beaches: An epic East Cape expedition with Matt & Amy

  1. Oh, what an adventure! It’s a good thing you blog and photograph, Mel because you’ve been on too many escapades to remember them all. It was so good that you did that one with your friends. Keep them coming!!
    Love, Nanny.

    • Thanks, Nanny! Yes, we have certainly had some epic adventures indeed! We took Matt and Amy to the hot pools in Rotorua where we also took you, and made a stop in the Mount for some Turkish to Go 2 as well! Some excellent times we had together one year ago! 🙂 Love you, Nanny!

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