Top 10 NZ roads: Number 8

20:14, Jan 31 2012
Gisborne to Optiki
WORTH YOUR TIME: The Gisborne to Opotiki road.

Number eight in our countdown, the longer route between Gisborne and Opotiki, is well worth the full day of driving.

8. Gisborne to Opotiki

Distance: 320km

The quickest way between these two points is SH2 - in itself a good road with many twists and turns, but one with much more traffic.

The road less travelled is that of SH35, which travels the long way around the East Cape. It's a full day's drive, but it's worth it.

Heading north to East Cape, the challenge is to find the settlement of Whangara (the setting for Whale Rider) before heading on to Tolaga Bay.


The roads are flowing and sparsely trafficked. There's not much to see as the road heads away from the coast, but there are a few settlements to investigate as you head for Te Araroa.

Look for New Zealand's biggest pohutukawa tree here and make a side diversion along the metal road to the East Cape lighthouse.

The trek up the 700 or so stairs to the lighthouse itself can be your exercise for the day.  

Form here to Opotiki, the road is a good match for the coastline scenery as it winds its way through the bays.

There is more traffic on this side of the cape, and fewer passing opportunities, but get a good run and the road is rewarding from a driver's point of view.

Time it right and you should reach Opotiki in time for fish and chips on the beach.