This morning Laura felt a lot better and we hit State Highway 35 again, passing some more amazing coastal scenery along the way. We stopped a few times, once at a lovely church on a cliff edge at Raukobore Bay to take a few photos, and again at another beach further along the coast. At each stop we were joined by two girls travelling together and a guy travelling on his own, both driving cars rather than vans and both clearly following the same route as us! There's only one road (SH35) around the Cape, so once you're on it, you're on it all the way to Gisborne or Opotiki.
Our main stop for the day was the lighthouse at the tip of the East Cape. We thought we had to go there after being all the way to the Northern tip to see the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. To get there, we had to take a 20km diversion down an unsealed, gravel road which at times went down to single lane on the edge of a cliff, and at others had horses wandering loose across the road - we kept seeing signs saying 'To report wandering livestock please call...'! It was definately worth the drive though.
After pulling up in the carpark and deciding against using the overflowing pit toilets, we began our climb up the hill, over Maori land and up LOTS of steps to the lighthouse. Still not sure exactly how many there were - our radio said 500, the sign on the gate at the bottom said 940 and one of our guide books said 700 - they don't know how to count them like in Whitby, although there WERE a lot more than 199! Halfway up, we looked back towards the carpark to see the other two cars that had been following us all day pull in! We decided to get a move on so that they wouldn't overtake us on the climb!
We finally made it to the top, exhausted but amazed by the stunning view, nothing but ocean apart from the tiny island just off the coast where the lighthouse used to stand until they moved it before it fell into the sea! (East Island). We sat looking out to sea and ate our dinner, joined by the two girls from the car, who turned out to be au pairs from Sweden and Germany. We took pictures for each other and shared our knife (it was a beautiful moment!), chatting about our travels around NZ!
We eventually headed back down the hill (much easier!) and along the gravel road to the highway and drove towards our camp spot for the night at Tokomaru Bay. The campsite was pretty basic and we wrecked our power cable by plugging it into the wrong socket, but we did take advantage of the fish and chip shop next door - a taste from home!