Waipaoa Bridge Roundabout [Gisborne 10k; Wairoa 90k] Veer right to Patutahi on Wharekopae Road.
Patutahi [1.5k deviation] Store, petrol, golf course, tavern. Farmstay, country retreat, tavern. The road through Patutahi continues as Lavenham Road to Waituhi where magnificent Rongopai Marae can be viewed before continuing to join SH2 at Waipaoa (14k).
Eastwoodhill Arboretum [Gisborne 35k] This unique park contains New Zealand’s largest collection of Northern Hemisphere shrubs, trees and climbers in a picturesque setting. Parking, picnic tables, toilets.
Eastwoodhill Arboretum was established by local farmer Douglas Cook over one hundred years ago. By all accounts Cook was seen by the locals as being an eccentric sort of fellow, coming back from WWI disillusioned with mankind and the carnage they were inflicting on each other – not to mention the trees and natural environment which was being decimated across Europe.
He purchased a property at Ngatapa, which is pretty remote nowadays, and even more so back then, and started importing trees from all over the world with the aim of saving the tree populations of the world.
With 135 hectares of established gardens – much of it consisting of northern hemisphere species – Eastwoodhill is a globally significant genetic library with many of those species now on the endangered list. Many trees are now more than 100 years old and are magnificent specimens thanks to a dedicated army of largely volunteer gardeners.
Eastwoodhill is a stunning place to visit in Autumn when the leaves are changing colour. But each changing season offers something new, with the flowers of spring a delight and the large established trees offering a shady place to relax and unwind in summer.
There are many different walking tracks, mountainbiking and also open backed jeep tours where your guide will regale you with tales about the trees and the development of the property as they drive you around the arboretum. There is an amazing array of different species, with trees from such far flung places such as Tibet and Iraq.
They will also entertain you with some funny stories about the infamous founder, including the little known fact that Cook would do the gardening naked, apart from a hat and one gumboot, which he wore on the foot he used for the spade!
Douglas Cook was a pioneering eco-warrior and super-conservator, long before those terms had been coined. He set out to save the tree populations of the world, a lofty ideal, but one that he actually achieved.
He has left a lasting legacy, a national treasure, a globally significant genetic library and one of the most beautiful gardens in New Zealand.
You can visit their website for more info www.eastwoodhill.org.nz
Rere Falls and Rockslide [Gisborne 50k] The Rere Falls is where the Wharekopae River transforms from a slow moving body of water to an incredible cascade more than 20 metres wide and 10 metres tall. Located 15 min drive past Eastwoodhill Arboretum, the Rere Falls is a perfect swimming and picnic spot or just sit and experience the natural beauty of this place.
Natural forces have conspired to create an epic and truly unique experience in the Gisborne countryside at Rere that attracts thousands of local and visiting thrill-seekers each summer. The Rere Rock Slide is 60 metres of sheer exhilaration as the waters of the Wharekopae River race down a giant slab of moss-covered sandstone into a naturally-formed freshwater pool.
Best experienced with an inflatable device – available to hire from the Gisborne i-SITE – you’ll want to take this ride over and over again. Fortunately the opposite riverbank acts as a naturally formed stairway to get you back up and ready to go.
Click here to check out the video, too much fun!
As always, extreme care is advised around water and the ability to swim is a pre-requisite. For further information, water quality and to hire wetsuits and inflatable devices contact the Gisborne i-SITE, 209 Grey Street, Gisborne 06 868 6139. Rere Rockslide rafts $15-20 including free wetsuit hire.