Looking for inspiration for things to do in Te Araroa and the East Cape? Look no further, you’ve come to the right place.

New Zealand is known for its natural wonders and pristine coastline but few provide a better mix of both than Te Araroa and the region of the East Cape. It’s a stunning part of the country to explore at your own leisure, free of the hustle and bustle of the cities and other tourism centres.

Whilst it is one of the most remote parts of the North Island which is one of the reasons it is so appealing to so many people, this doesn’t mean there is a shortage of things to do around the East Cape. We’ve trawled the internet, asked our team throughout the country and got the lowdown from our GO Explore fans and pulled together a list of 11 of the best things to do in Te Araroa and the East Cape. Let’s do this!

1. Beaches, beaches and more beaches

One thing the area around the East Cape is not short of is beaches. From the town of Opotiki, the coastal drive via State Highway 35 to Te Araroa is literally dotted with sublime beaches all the way. Hikuwai Beach and Tirohanga Beach are the first of these and are great places to get refreshed before getting the main drive underway. Further along, you’ll find the picturesque Torere Beach and Harai Beach. There is also a plethora of camping grounds, resorts and holiday parks where you can stay, many of which are just a stone’s throw away from their own stretch of sand.

2. East Cape Lighthouse

The East Cape Lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses in the country and represents the Easternmost point of the mainland. At 150m above sea level, there’s a bit of a climb to get there (some 800 steps in fact) but the reward is well worth the effort. The panoramic views are simply breathtaking and include the stunning cliffs along the coastline, the endless vista of the South Pacific and the gorgeous Whangaokeno Island. A visit at any time of day is great but if you want to capture something undeniably mesmerising, you can’t beat the sunrise.

3. East Cape Manuka Company Cafe

There’s nothing more satisfying than a great food experience on a road trip and the East Cape Manuka Company Cafe provides exactly that. When arriving in Te Araroa, it’s a great place to enjoy a coffee, carrot cake and even a curry from their kitchen for a larger bite to eat. As the name suggests, they also produce and sell Manuka honey and related products like oils, soaps and creams. Friends and family always appreciate (and sometimes expect) a few holiday gifts once you’ve returned so you can tick that box here too.

4. Hicks Bay Wharf


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If you’re interested in visiting an iconic wharf near Te Araroa then make sure you put time aside for Hicks Bay Wharf. Used during the 1920s by the local freezing works, the wharf has weathered over time to the point where it’s no longer suitable for use. Though mostly intact, it’s essentially a historical ruin, giving it a haunting quality that is captivating against the beautiful backdrop of the surrounding coast. The nearby rocks are also a popular fishing spot, for those that like to dabble.

5. Hunting and Fishing

Speaking of which, the East Cape region is renowned for its rich hunting and fishing, something visitors can experience during their time there. Granted, it won’t be of interest to all but it is a favoured pastime of many locals some of which take tours and charters. Among these, game fishing is extremely popular with the likes of marlin, yellowfin tuna, broadbill swordfish and bluefin tuna up for grabs, the latter of which can weigh up to 500kg. A catch like that will make you an instant legend across the land.

6. Maunga Hikurangi

Maunga Hikurangi is a sacred mountain of the Ngāti Porou people with its peak reaching into the clouds at 1,752m. Legend says that it was the first part of Aotearoa that emerged when Maui (the Polynesian explorer) fished up the North Island from the sea. Visitors to the region can book tours including the Te Urunga (sunrise experience) or Haramai (daytime experience). The tours include a 4WD ride from the base to the peak with a knowledgeable guide describing the legends and history along the way. Upon arrival at the summit, you’ll see 9 impressive Maori carvings, depicting the stories of Maui himself.

7. Motu River Jet

Jet boating is a thrilling adventure tourism activity in New Zealand and you can give it a go on the waters of the mighty Motu River with Motu River Jet. Reaching exhilarating speeds, you’ll be skillfully manoeuvred down the river with twists and turns that’ll get the heart racing. If you’re able to, you’ll also enjoy the stunning scenery along the banks of the Motu River which includes glorious mountain peaks, untamed native bush and natural birdlife and wildlife. They do daily departures during the summer and bookings by request at other times of the year. You can even throw in an optional historic river walk too if you wish.

8. Pacific Coast Macadamias


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The macadamia nut is a popular treat and the East Cape is a somewhat unlikely place you’ll be able to purchase some, fresh off the tree. Pacific Coast Macadamias are an orchid with their own cafe where you can stop, enjoy a coffee and refreshment and buy some macadamia related products. Macadamia oil for cooking, skincare products, chocolate-covered macadamias – these are just some of the things you’ll be able to take with you as you pass on through. It’s a beautiful setting and the garden and trees are an equally stunning sight to see.

9. St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki is a glorious and historically significant church, not just in the area but for New Zealand as a whole. Built in 1924, it is dedicated to the soldiers of Ngāti Porou who died in WWI. While it is a European styled church, the interior is exquisitely adorned with traditional Māori carvings. Sir Apirana Ngata, considered the foremost Māori politician to ever have served, was the impetus behind the design representing a meeting between two cultures.


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10. Te Waha-o-Rerekohu

Te Waha-o-Rerekohu is the name given to an iconic pōhutakawa tree, said to be the oldest and biggest of its kind in New Zealand. At 600 years old with a branch span of 37m, you’ll quickly appreciate why it holds its title. A proud symbol in the heart of Te Araroa, Te Waha-o-Rerekohu looks its most radiant between November and January when the pōhutakawa trees are in full bloom with rich red flowers. Across the road, you’ll find Te Araroa Beach, which completes the perfect postcard shot.

11. Waihirere Falls


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There’s nothing that creates a greater feeling of tranquillity than a waterfall and Waihirere Falls is the epitome of that. Only 10 mins drive from Te Araroa and 10 mins walk from the road, the waterfalls are nice and accessible giving you a view that’s easy on the eyes. With a water hole below, it’s an ideal spot for swimming on a hot summer’s day. With the rocks, bush and peaks on either side, your Instagrams will look naturally fantastic for one and all to see.

Some amazing things to do in Te Araroa and the East Cape

So there you have it. Some great attractions and sights to see during your road trip to the East Cape and Te Araroa. It’s a beautiful part of the country and an amazing coastal drive to experience too so get planning and put it in the calendar today!