As one of our last attempts to see as much of the North Island as possible before moving down south, we decided to take a couple days and drive down to the Mahia peninsula. Tyler has heard about some amazing surf coming from that part of the island so we really wanted to check it out. The problem was the weather forecast for the next day wasn’t looking that favorable, but since it was one of our last opportunities to head out there we decided to go for it anyway. The Mahia Peninsula is on the east side of New Zealand between Gisborne and Napier and is a pretty popular holiday spot in the summer.
After a brief stop in Gisbore for a quick surf, we headed out to Mahia to explore. By the time we got there the surf was pretty blown out, but it was really pretty driving around and checking out all the little towns and beaches. It was almost like a very small east cape vibe but with completely different scenery. That night we set up camp at Mahia Holiday park and got to witness a amazing sunset.
Unfortunately when we woke up the next morning the wind was already howling and it looked like a rain front was coming in sooner than expected. Since surfing was pretty much not happening at this point, we decided to pull out the map and take a new road back towards the Mount that we had not been on before and camp along the way back somewhere. We decided to take highway 38, which went into Te Urewera National Park and then on to Rotorua. We figured we would just pull over at one of the DOC campsites listed on the map in the National Park and hopefully Tyler could do some fishing.
Highway 38 turned out to be this 3 hour rain forest route on a rugged dirt road that twisted and turned up and over the mountains surrounding Lake Waikaremoana and down into the National Park. Tyler was in man heaven driving this dirt road for so long, and after a blissful couple of hours of dirt road entertainment we ended up in the Mokau Landing Campsite right on the edge of the lake. If anyone is doing this drive I would recommend this to be the campsite to stay at since it offered the prettiest views and the largest flat patch of grass with basic DOC amenities. By the time we got to the campsite the weather had turned to complete crap, but we still had fun fishing, cooking dinner, and just enjoying the view. With ever changing weather in NZ you sometimes have to just make the best of the weather situation and we definitely did that on this trip. Luckily, when the beach turns off, you can just head to the mountains and find yourself in a completely different setting within a hour. It looked like a lot of people had the same idea as we saw quite a few cars with surf boards on the roof while driving the 38.
That night our tent Mary proved she was worth every penny when the wind and rain picked up and howled all night long. At one point, the wind was so bad the tent was laying flat on one side and I woke up to a face full of tent trying its best to cover me like a blanket. But we still stayed dry (thanks Mary you are a legend) and luckily our boards did not end up in the lake.
All in all a fun two days discovering some more North Island gems!