img_8302The road from Mt Manganui, through Opotiki and across to Gisborne is quiet with enough trucks to show how the F650GS can whisk past them with little or no effort.

Unfortunately a company called Fulton Hogan have been tasked with dumping large quantities of stone chips and wet tar all over the road in some areas.

If you have been to NZ then you will know (and probably fear) these recently sealed areas as the policy is to spray tar, pour on lots of stones then allow the cars (and bikes) to roll them in. Many of the stones never stick and they build up between the wheel tracks. it can take weeks before they are all clear of the road.

Fulton Hogan are a particularly bad example of this type of road surfacing contractor who plainly do not give a damn how many cars they damage. You can see in the picture how many stones I took with me which apart from being scary to ride through has img_0047covered the bike in tar and damaged the radiator core, not fatally but a guard will be required as well as a rear mudguard or hugger at the first opportunity.

Foolishly I decided that I'd stayed often enough in Gisborne to fancy a change and how bad can Tokomaru Bay be anyway? Well!

The old Post Office has been done up as a B&B and is quite charming but the town (village?) itself has fallen on very hard times. The Te Puka pub is well over a kilometer away and not worth the walk as dinner is pedestrian to say the least. Moreover there was no way I'd willingly do the walk in darkness, stay in Gisborne would be my advice.

There is no money machine let alone bank at Tokomaru Bay. There are derelict bank buildings once belonging to the Bank of new Zealand and the long departed Bank of New South Wales but this is cearrly from a time long gone by now. Even getting money at the pub or the supermarket (aisle signs in Maori, not something you see every day) is pretty hard, $20 was as much as the latter could manage. A challenge as the B&B have no facilities for cards.img_8324

Clearly the East Cape is doing badly, Ruatoria is looking even more down at heel, with the new cafe we called at in November now closed. There are many derelict buildings and really the first sign of any prosperity is once you exit the Cape and get passed Opotiki.

I had a pleasant lunch with an chap from Milan at Te Aroha. He was very concerned that New Zealand closes in the evening what, he asked, do all the people do? His other question was about the division between the East Cape residents (mainly Maori) and rest of the country (mainly white New Zealanders). This question does not feature in the travel guides but it is quite apparent on the East Cape that the country is divided into 'haves' and 'have nots' and the 'have nots' are pretty much the Maori.

I had no satisfactory answer to either question.

I endeavored to find somewhere to stay at Opotiki but the last time here I remember the trucks driving though at all hours of the img_0049
night and grinding around the 90 degree corner where the motels are situated. There is nothing else within walking distance of the town centre, such as it is.

Ohope Beach was inexplicably full and I drove on and stayed at the Tuscany Villas, in Whakatani; not cheap but very nice. Dinner on the Wharf was first rate and it really is a pleasure to get back to a better off part of NZ.