New Years on the East Cape

 young guns on east cape tour #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

Are East Cape dwellers known as ‘Coasters’ or ‘Capers’? With unresolved questions like these on our minds, an intrepid party of NZMVC Young GunsTM gathered in the metropolis of Raukokore on 28th December to do battle with alleged hordes of Sandflies, explore the surrounding area, and generally see in the New Years holiday period in regulation fashion.


Up early on the 29th we set off to the day’s farm and river run, way up a nearby valley to a large station where after a quick look over a magnificent old homestead we tootled up farm tracks for a gander at a smaller but equally cool log cabin – complete with constantly running water on tap. Back down the hill, we dropped into the river and the fun began.

series land rover dropping into a east coast river #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

Driving along the stony river bed and splashing through the shallow water is great fun. As the river got more serious with added water from side creeks we spent more time inspecting each crossing beforehand, often with Paul H spending decent lengths of time in the water searching for the best route – thanks, Paul! The bottom surface also became progressively softer, requiring careful usage of the throttle to ease into the flow (sometimes at fairly interesting angles), and then power through. A few times recovery was required and we all generally learned more about how to drive in certain situations – its great this teaching and progressing attitude the club has. Eventually, we came out on a farm track and headed home (around 7 pm) A decent day for sure!

Series II landrovers crossing a new zealand river. Native bush on hill behind. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

The next day we rested and investigated the immediate surroundings of the accommodation, including the historic Raukokore church. The fish smell inside is due to Penguins nesting under the floor. A short walk up a secret creek to a waterfall and a brief inspection of the gravel area under the Raukokore river bridge (read: donuts) topped off an easy relaxing day.


Land rovers parked below the Ruakokore River Bridge. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

For the last day of 2018 we set off in convoy to the marginally-less-remote-than-usual East Cape lighthouse.

Land Rovers convoy on road to east cape lighthouse. narrow road beside sea. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

At Te Araroa we stopped and admired the world’s biggest and oldest Pohutukawa tree: “Te Waha O Rerekohu”. We pressed on to the lighthouse and walked up the 800 steps. Absolutely mint weather allowed a great view in all directions. Quite fitting I think that this year we went to the easternmost point when last New Year we visited the Southernmost point of the North Island, and the year before was based in Taranaki – the club certainly does get around! On the return journey we stopped at Hicks Bay and froze in the water – how can it be so cold there?!

Team photo of young guns at East Cape Lighthouse. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

The New Year itself was seen in with all approximately 14 of us gathered around a brazier enjoying hearty conversation and a few wee nips. New Year’s Day saw us relaxedly starting to explore the remaining side roads in the area before we bumped into some locals who were keen to show us some places of interest. Next thing you know we’re on a great big beach where the Tainui Waka first landed in NZ (before carrying on up the coast and eventually getting to Kawhia). There was a waterfall straight onto the beach which is pretty special. The same guides next took us up a great big steep ridge track, over the razorback top before dropping right back down to a beautiful, secluded bay which was our lunch stop. The water here was crystal clear. The opportunity to visit this sort of private and unexpected spot is a big reason why this hobby is so enjoyable, I think.

Paul guides a land rover across the river. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

On the 2nd we packed up as most of us were headed straight home after the day’s run up a river. Fortunately, we were able to drop unnecessary items at the days’ guide’s house, which certainly made the river trekking mildly more straightforward. Into the river right under the road bridge and the depth and riverbed softness caught out one vehicle, which required a bit of attention to the distributor before going happily again. With the local guide, we were able to make good progress following a semi-defined track made the night before by hunters (this is all Iwi land). The depth of the water made things interesting at times, though there were no unfortunate episodes. I particularly enjoy water coming into the footwells – it gives the impression of sailing. I think some oils will be needing changing in a few vehicles! The riverbed used to consist of boulders the size of houses and up – unnavigable by vehicle and even horse – until Cyclone Bola came along in 1988 and caused huge slips, burying the boulders and creating the relatively smooth and very changeable surface it has now – each flood moves softer stuff further downstream and the higher upstream you go the rougher it gets. We got to the turnaround point and turned around, heading out the access road. Loading up, saying goodbye, and four of us in convoy back to the Waikato. An awesome and very relaxing New Year! Thank you very much to Makere, Ameria, and Aorangi for inviting us to their bach, to Ollie for arranging the river runs, and to everyone who came and made it a great event!

Land rovers crossing and emerging from a river. East Cape. #nzmvc #landrover New Zealand Military Vehicle Club Inc

This article first appeared in the NZMVC publication “BULLETIN” March 2019. This publication is available exclusively to members of NZMVC. Find out more about joining NZ’s premier military vehicle club [here]