Getting from New Plymouth to R&V in Gisborne is a hike, for sure, so we've thrown down some options to see and eat and drink and jump in, along the way. From The ‘Naki you’ve got three roads that will lead to R&V - North goes via Whakatane, the southerly route takes you through Palmerston North, or you can set your teeth and head straight across the middle of the country. We’ve covered a few so load up the car with your friends, some fiendish beats and a tank full of Saudi’s finest and off you go. And if it’s a scorcher then make sure you have easy access to your togs 'cause you're going to want them.
No roadie can get underway unless your crew have the ingested the necessary coffee hit. And whilst NZ is home to the finest of baristas and cafes, there are some long stretches on these roads across the country to Gizzy where coffee is rare and you can succumb to caffeine withdrawal easily. So first things first and if your road trip starts in New Plymouth get yourselves to the Public Catering Company. Situated in the White Hart - across the road from The Gallery - Public Catering Company is about as good as it gets. Stop yourself drooling and stock up on some mouth watering sarnies, a heart racing coffee (or two) and you’ll struggle to walk past their pastries and donuts.
If you’re more of a water junkie, grab a helmet and join the original black water rafting tour - into Ruakuri Cave. Beneath a canopy of twinkling glow worms you’ll float along on your rubber tubes before plunging into the cascading, frothing tumult of the underground waterfalls that reflect the starry blanket of the glowworm covered ceiling.
Once you’ve decided what to eat (and what to pack for munching on your drive) leap back into the car and head out northwards - destination Waitomo and a spot of black water rafting… When you reach Waitomo you have two options to give yourself a buzz. Don your helmet and launch yourself into the ethereal but yell inducing Black Abyss, where you descend into the seemingly endless depths of Ruakuri Cave, before taking the zipline through crazy glowworm-lit halls and climbing underground waterfalls.
After all that underground adventure, you’re sure to need a coldie and something to eat so our next stop is Tauranga. Head up on SH3 and then at Cambridge duck onto SH1 and the road through the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest to Tauranga, and Brew - a cheeky craft beer pub. Owned by the chaps who brew Croucher Brewing beers, Brew offers a range of seasonal beers - perfect for a summer roadie, as well as cooking up a pizza and a range of burgers and other options to help you stock up on some carbs before you launch into your R&V festivities.
Beer and beaches are a great combo but save yourself for R&V (responsible trippers!) and wrap it up, then make your way north for a swim at the remote and ridiculously beautiful white sand Newdicks Beach. Raw and untouched, this rugged beach is close to Makatu, on the southerly side of Okurei Point. Its pretty secluded so it’s entirely possible that it’ll just be you and your crew splashing about in the waves. But like all good things it takes a little bit of extra effort to get there. Drive through Makatu continuing up the cliff to the end of Town Point Road where you’ll encounter a privately owned gravel road which will take you to the beach. You can pay a small fee ($3 per car) to drive down the road, or you can walk down to the beach for free. There’s a stream at one end of the beach or you can head out into the waves to swim and body surf, or boogie board if you’ve brought one. It’s pretty spectacular as bush clad cliffs rise up from the sand but there’s no surf patrol so you're on your own if surf is strong!
Once you’ve chilled out in the sea get yourself to R&V.
Coming home from a party the magnitude of R&V is hard on so many levels - you feel a little worse for wear and no one likes to know they have to wait a whole year for the next R&V to roll around. So let’s make the road home a sweet one and catch a thrill, grab a beer and take a break at a beach on the way home.
First things first and the best way to get into shape for a decent sized roadtrip home is get yourself into the sea. So drive down the coast from Gisborne and head out on a little detour on the Nuhaka Opoutama Road to Mahia Beach.
Mahia is beautiful and an amazing place for a swim. It’s a glorious white sand beach with clear fresh surf pounding on the beach - perfect for moving your headache on! Kick back, take a swim and then chill out on the beach for a while or two.
Once you’ve had your fill of chilling on the Mahia shores, it’s time to head to Taupo and to throw yourself off a bridge. Next to the Waikato River, Taupo Bungy is New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy jump - 47 metres over the Waikato River - and then splash straight into the crystal clear waters you goooooooooo! You can go on your own, tandem up, you can keep your hair all nice and dry or submerge yourself into the drink. However you choose it’ll have you shrieking all the way down and whooping all the way back up again! Hell! Yeah!
All revved up after you've simulated a near death experience and head out to the lake and grab a coldie and a spot of lunch so you can relive your bungy with your crew. Grab a view-friendly table at The Lakehouse and with luck from the weather gods you'll be able to see Mt Tongariro across the lake to the south. Order a brew from the Taupo-based Lakeman Brewing, (try their Hairy Hop IPA) and grab a pizza or order one of their many burgers. This is sure to set your equilibrium back on track and get you roadworthy for the trip back to The ‘Naki.
Now, grab some lollies and water and hit the road headed for home. It’s about 3 and a half hours to New Plymouth so crank up the sounds.