You’re in the easternmost part of New Zealand’s main islands, and in one of New Zealand’s remoter regions. It’s a stunningly beautiful part of our country, famous not only for its sunshine, but its sunrise. Find yourself here, and up with the birds, and you’ll be the first, anywhere in the world, to see the sunrise that day.
It’s summer time and picnic time
Make the most of that sunshine, and the idyllic surrounds, and pack a picnic, and a thermos. In New Zealand, picnicking is part of the summer tradition. In a region like East Cape, where travelling the roads you are delightfully close to the coastline, it is the perfect opportunity to take some delicious supplies with you, and enjoy them on a blanket in the sunshine.
Back in the day, picnics originated in medieval times as extravagant outdoor affairs, meals fit for royalty and high society. Over time, cultures throughout the world have put their own spin on them, and New Zealand is no exception. These days, often times the simpler the food the better, with everyone pitching in something, sitting around on blankets and towels, sun hat or umbrella to the ready. And East Cape travels spoil you with so many ideal locations for this.
A moment to think a little about where you are
While relaxing with your outdoor meal, it’s also the perfect time to reflect on the significance of this region to New Zealand. Here, there’s a stronghold of New Zealand history.
Bordering this district there’s Whangaparāoa, Cape Runaway. Marvel here at the spot where two waka, Tainui and Te Arawa, first made landfall from Hawaiiki… what an incredible journey. And with their arrival came the introduction of kūmara, sweet potato, a culinary gift to New Zealand.
At Te Araroa you’ll find Te Waha O Rerekohu, the country’s largest and oldest pōhutakawa (and, it would then follow, the world's biggest and oldest).
The region is also famous as the spot where Captain Cook first set foot in New Zealand, and with that landing, changing the course of New Zealand’s future. And it’s a place also remembered as a key site in the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s.
And other food treasures too…
As with so many parts of New Zealand, even in the relative isolation, there are food treasures to be found. So if, perhaps, you find on your travels you’re still a bit peckish - even after that picnic - we think you shouldn’t resist a stop at the famous Kai Kart. Especially the original mothership in Ruatoria, a caravan towed up from the South Island around 50 years ago.
And you’ll find the mobile food truck theme continues, as you wind through the beautiful eastern bays, with another real treasure at the famous Tolaga Bay wharf, creating gourmet mobile street food.
Making the most of that kumara koha
Inspired by kūmara history, and the amazing spots to stop and stare at the striking land and seascapes, our idea for this journey is a kūmara picnic salad, click here for more. This is a perfect transportable dish to enjoy at one of many places, perhaps wharfside at Tokomaru Bay or Tolaga Bay. Who knows, a friendly local diver might give you a crayfish… And if they do, it would be a delicious addition.
And for more…
For more on what to find and enjoy on East Cape travels, explore food treasures on our North Island Food Travel Guide app - click here. You’ll find picnic stops, delightful coffee stops and eateries, and a whole lot more.