Explore the hinterland of the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Trip to Opotiki
The weather looked perfect for the weekend and we decided to check out Opotiki’s hinterland. Bernard has previously done some racing and suggested to check out Motu Road, another scenic drive that you will hardly meet a soul. We left on Saturday afternoon and took the Highway 5 via Rotorua and Whakatane to reach Opotiki just after sunset. The pretty scenic drive, marked in yellow on the map below, was about 213 km long and just took us about 3 hours on the motorbike.
We had a lovely AirBnB place right on Church Street in Opotiki town. This allowed us to explore the township in the evening, while looking around for dinner. We ended up in the Masonic Hotel, not the best but there is not much around.
Motorbiking on the remote Motu Road
The next morning we were ready to take on the rugged Motu Road. It can be done in a normal 2WD car, but it gets very narrow at places. Good driving skills are essential. We were lucky, it was a Sunday and no logging trucks were meeting us on the road. We actually only saw one happy guy on his bike until we reached the historic township of Motu.
Visit Motu, a township in the hinterland
In Motu the time seems to be running at a different speed… much slower than elsewhere. The former shop is more a museum and the owners run the premises as a cafe, which is called MotuVation. You can find out some interesting facts about the history of this place. Besides this, not much else happens in this town. People are quite chatty at the local meeting point, a toilet block, with a generous 3 night freedom camping offering.
The Motu Falls and the Waioeka River Gorge
We decided to take the side trip to Motu Falls, which can be viewed from a beautiful swing bridge. It was so worth it! But time was ticking away and we had to move on to meet the State Highway 2 at Matawai. This highway will take you back to Opotiki or alternatively you could head down to Gissie. An interesting piece of roadwork, it took 3 lives and 23 years to complete. Following the Waioeka River, that gives this route its name, Waioeka Gorge, and it is just gorgeous!
Along “The Waioeka Journey”
Recommended stops along “The Waioeka Journey” are at Manganuku Bridge for a picnic, at Memorial to read about the history and you could stop at Tauranga Bridge for a short walk.
Back in Opotiki, we went for a swim at the popular Waiotahi Beach. You could park at “Te Ara Ki Te Rawhiti” or down at the surf club, if you like to use the changing room facilities. This beach usually offers views to Whale and also White Island, both located off the coast.
Hukutaia Domain with its sacred burial tree
The next day we visited a sacred burial tree that is believed to be about 2000 -2500 years old. You can find this ancient Puriri Tree, common to the area, at the Hukutaia Domain. Located just outside Opotiki, take the road on the left, after you crossed the main bridge. At the end of Woodland Road you will find a jewel. This domain hosts a great variety of trees from all over New Zealand.
Back to Taupo
We were lucky and arrived on the 1. Monday of the month, during a working bee get together. The friendly locals invited us to try their yummy carrot cake, it was so delicious! Now we were ready to travel back home. This time we choose an alternative route, not much shorter than the scenic route via Rotorua, but much bumpier thru a large forest on a gravel road. Including the sidetrips to Hukutaia Domain and the scenic detour along Ohiwa Harbour, it made the trip 218 km long, to get back to Taupo via Lake Matahina.