Archives For Cooks Cove

The drive

On the road again...

New Zealand music festivals and summer; it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Once Christmas is over, kiwi boys and girls across the country will be packing their perfect summer outfits, discussing music and snack options, and double checking they’ve got their tickets before heading to various festival locations to bring in the New Year. Whether they’re On the road again, going on their first Roady, or just enjoying The Ride, music lovers will use this time to plan, prepare for, and analyse what will be happening over the course of their summer holiday.

Here are some insider suggestions for those looking to dilute the sometimes heady mix of New Year vino and vibes with something more soothing for the soul.

Just what the doctor ordered...

Getting to Gizzy is not an easy journey. It can be a long, hot drive so stopping for breaks is important. If you’re coming from Napier, grab an ice-cream in Nuhaka and stop at the near-by Morere Hot Springs Reserve (about 40 minutes before Gisborne). Along with a relaxing spa, you can take a 20 minute shaded bush walk through the nikau palms, get your palm read, or buy a $3 healing stone necklace. Bargain! If you’re coming from Opotiki, the Waioeka Gorge has seven stops along the way, with an historical story at each. Make sure you pull over at the Monument swimming hole—it’s a lifesaver when the East Coast sun starts cranking up.

Cooks Cove Walkway


If Gisborne’s feeling a little crowded and you’re looking for a break, pack a picnic, a good sunhat and your togs and drive around the coast to Tologa Bay and the Cooks Cove Walkway. This track goes through farm land and is easy to complete, while still being a decent workout. From the top, the surrounding water is an electric dream blue and shines so bright, and once you reach the bottom you can swim, eat and play in the beautiful Cooks Cove bay.

When you get back to the car, you’ll be ready for another swim and an icecream; luckily, both the dairy and the Tolaga Bay wharf (which is super-fun to jump off) are just around the corner.

Makaretu Scenic Reserve (Rere rock slide and the Champagne pools)

Good old fashioned fun on the Rere rockslide

Often referred to as one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, the Rere falls are both beautiful and entertaining. They are 50 kilometres out of Gisborne, on the Wharekopae road. You’ll need a boogie board, a rubber tube or something sturdy and inflatable. This natural waterslide is for the brave; you may need to mentally project positive all day to prepare, but after you’ve been down once, you’ll be running back up to the top again and again. If you’re feeling “blasé blasé from last night’s party”, then further down the road are the more tranquil Champagne pools. These are sun-heated, naturally formed rock pools that are perfect for relaxing and swimming in.

The Okitu Scenic Reserve Track and hill

Keep on pushing till you reach the top

Okitu Hill is one of the best places in Gizzy to watch the sunrise from. If you want to head away from town’s main beach, hit State Highway 35 for five minutes until you reach Okitu just past Wainui. There’s parking at the end of Moana Road. The climb to the top is sharp but short—the view is amazing, the kind that reminds you it’s a brand new day today. Over the road, the Reserve has a little track that takes you through a nice 20–30 minute walk in a bush that was developed especially to teach kiddies about bio-diversity and conservation. After that, take a ‘Wainui shower’ and cool off in the sea. This beach is best before the breeze arrives around midday.

Extend the holiday

Stopping for a scenic break on the Waikaremoana Great Walk

For those that plan on making a ‘do more exercise’ resolution, why not add a few days to the trip and do the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. This takes three days, with five huts and campgrounds (complete with hot showers) along the way. While walking, you can catch up on all the New Years Eve gossip and unwind together, taking in the clean, clear, crisp scenery.

A pearler

If you’re after some relaxation and a great sunbathing spot, the Anaura Bay campground is like an endless summer haze. At only $15 a night, this place is a treat. You can even bring your dog.

Every Monday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

This week we find out about Community Relations Ranger, Sandra Groves.

At work…

Enjoying a quiet moment at Titirangi Reserve, Kaiti Hill, Gisborne

Name: Sandra Groves

Position: Community Relations Ranger, Gisborne Whakatane Area.

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I do communications for the area. This involves media, website publishing, publications, interpretation/signage projects and secretarial support to Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve Committee. I also assist with events in the area and other Community Relations work.

What is the best part about your job?

Feeling like I am making a difference. Seeing my written material in the local newspapers or hearing one of the ‘did you know’ facts for Conservation Week or Sea Week on the local radio station. I also like finding out through media stories about the conservation work in the Gisborne and Whakatane/Opotiki regions, and from the organisation as a whole.

Sandra, with Woody Weed, preparing for the Gisborne Christmas Parade

What is the hardest part about your job?

Being able to tell a story and make it interesting to read! There are so many great stories that I get the opportunity to write, and working with our Area staff to put these stories out there is a privilege. 

What led you to your role in DOC?

I was working as a secretary in the health service and was looking for a change. I started as a Management Support Officer for the East Coast Conservancy in 1991. 

I’ve been Community Relations Ranger for the Gisborne Whakatane Area since 2009 and have just clocked up twenty years at DOC!

The Cooks Cove Walkway interpretation panel

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

The completion of the interpretation/signage panels for the Cooks Cove Walkway at Tolaga Bay that we started in January 2010.

The project was undertaken in partnership with the Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti iwi. Cooks Cove was one of the places that James Cook and his crew visited in 1769 as part of the circumnavigation of New Zealand. The project will be officially launched later this year.

Family time at Titirangi Reserve on Kaiti Hill

The rule of three….

Three loves

  • Family
  • Cats Leo and Ruby
  • A sunny Gisborne day—just awesome

Deep and meaningful ….

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Enjoy life and make the most of every opportunity!

Checking out the Cooks Cove Walkway interpretation panel

Who or what inspires you and why?

All the great people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with at DOC. And my mum.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A school teacher — I always wanted to boss the other kids around.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A freelance writer… doing what I love, when I want to, and getting paid for it.

Crowds gather for the Gisborne Christmas parade

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

Tui, they make the most beautiful bird call… we have some that visit in our trees at home.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

It’s everyone’s responsibility to look after our environment. We should not just talk about it — get out and make it happen! When you travel to other countries you realise just how beautiful New Zealand really is.