“The Anaura Bay Walkway is a two-hour loop track, 60 minute's drive north of Gisborne on SH35, a road that links a series of pristine beaches and also tracks across huge swathes of fertile green farmland.”
Beginning and ending at the most beautiful of these remote East Coast beaches, the 4.5km track can be walked in either direction.
Park at the DoC camping ground at the northern end of the beach and head steadily uphill on a narrow track through native bush in the company of tuis and fantails. The track emerges from the bush after about 10 minutes and climbs steeply across grassland to a ridge overlooking Anaura Bay and Motuoroi Island.
The area is rich in history. It's nearly 250 years since Captain James Cook made his second landing on Aotearoa-New Zealand soil in the bay below you.
When HMS Endeavour sailed into Anaura Bay on 22 October 1769 (*see footnote below), the crew were welcomed by Maori in waka (canoes). Cook and his men were given a cordial reception by local chiefs and were able to fill their casks with water from Hawai Stream, where there is a plaque marking the occasion.
Anaura Bay was home to the first comprehensive written description of Maori horticulture and historical records tell us the crew of the HMS Endeavour were astonished by the neatness, regularity and extent of the gardens in the area.
From the ridge, a well-formed track descends on a carpet of soft pine needles through a shady forest to the valley floor. Here hikers cross Waipare Stream which can be muddy and slippery after recent rain. The track then meanders up and down alongside and sometimes in the stream bed, and emerges from the forest in farmland populated with cattle and maize. Cross a stile or two and walk through grassland back to the carpark.
If you’ve got the time, camp overnight within spray-drift of the sea at the Anaura Bay or DoC camping grounds, and walk the length of the sickle-shaped bay, barefoot in the soft white sand and swim in the frothy surf - lukewarm at the end of a long, hot summers day. Take a fishing line with you and dine on kaimoana (seafood) under a canopy of stars. And the next day, you will awake with the sunrise, knowing you are among the first on the planet to see the light of the new day on this most easterly of beaches.
* Anaura Bay Walkway (One hour north of Gisborne). To get to Anaura Bay, turn off SH35 onto Anaura Road, about 67 km north of Gisborne. Travel a further 8.7 km down Anaura Road.
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Anaura Bay Walkway
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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