From Rotorua, we went north east the East Cape and then south to Gisbourne. It is not a major tourist route as there are no major attractions, but the journey makes it worthwhile. Once we hit the coast we were passing beautiful bays, skirting hills and dropping into valleys for the next 300kms, and mostly we were on our own. On the first night we found ourselves in a very rustic campsite near the East Cape Lighthouse, which is the most easterly point in NZ. Basic means it was a field, with a hose pipe and 'long drop' loo that needed attention, but it was right on a beach and only had three other vans there. We got to meet the owner, who was the most bigoted man we have met in NZ. He was a Maori though looked very Scottish, and perhaps it was this questionable lineage that made him so passionate about the Maori cause. We had to watch our food burn as he ranted about how his tribe had defeated all invaders, how wealthy his tribe was and how the Europeans were scared of the Maoris. I found the fact that he still talked about Maoris and Europeans odd; I think that if I was the fourth generation of a family that had been in NZ, turning wilderness into viable farmland, I may not think of myself as European. I was repeatedly told off by the wife for grinding my teeth, but this was the effect he had on me.
The next day we rejoined Highway 2 and went south, stopping at Gisborne to finish off my Visa chores, then found a campsite opposite some hot water springs. The sites we have stayed in have varied hugely, from large holiday parks with every amenity, to empty fields. This one was somewhere in the middle having all the amenities we needed, but all dated back to the 30's, however its location meant that within minutes of getting up we found ourselves the only occupants of the hot water pools surrounded by rainforest. One of the nice things about this trip had been that we really do not know what the day will bring - there is no routine to get up, shower, eat breakfast and get to work. Some days we have swum in the sea, other days we have been wine tasting for breakfast and occasionally we have just hit the road until we have found a nice spot to park up and eat. Getting back into a routine will be hard.