Saturday, April 3, 2010
Visiting the Cape
One of the great pleasures for me as a New Zealand travel guide writer, is the ability it affords me to travel the length and breadth of my own country, discovering many out of the way places that many New Zealanders never get to see. The remote East Cape of the North Island is a case in point. This stunning coastal landscape (against a backdrop of often forbidding native bush) is a Maori stronghold from start to finish; and even though it has become somewhat refined in terms of sealed roads etc over the last decade, it is still a seldom-visited place with a thriving, 'living' Maori culture.
Last year, I took two days to travel the cape from Opotiki to Gisborne. I thought that would be enough. It wasn't. While I managed to get hundreds of photographs of stunning, carved marae, like this one at the tiny settlement of Raukokore, 99km from Opotiki, it was rushed and I could happily have taken a week to do the same trip. Raukokore is perhaps best known for its historic church - which I will feature here tomorrow - but it is also to home to sandy beaches, a school, a second (Catholic) Church and this marae - where, I might add, I was ever-so-slightly unnerved by the fact that the carvings seemed to be watching me. I had a very strong sense of 'a presence' here, that I never felt anywhere else. This especially from the carving on top of the wharenui, 'Hinemahuru.'