Opotiki to Gisborne via Waioeka Gorge

  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 144km

The trip from Opotiki to Gisborne can probably take about two and a half hours but by picnicking or generally messing around anywhere in the delightful bush setting of the gorge the trip can profitably be made to last many hours longer. To start follow State Highway 2 south along St John Street past the cemetery on your right, you then pass the Opotiki Vet Centre, two of the kiwifruit pack houses, Eastpack  & OPAC & making use of the old dairy factory buildings on the left you will find, Bay Auto World, Opotiki Laundramat , TyreMan Opotiki  & the Wheel Alignment Clinic, with Cookson Forbes KSCM Accountants, in the old dairy factory office building across the road, then out to Waioeka Flats.

At the junction of Pile Road is a memorial stone erected by the Ngati Ira people in memory of their people killed in the fighting in 1865. (including New Zealands only cavalry charge). A bit further on, a left turn up Warringtons Road will lead you to the Marawaiwai Scenic Reserve bush walk . A further two kms is the settlement of Waioeka and the entry into Waioeka gorge scenic reserve (New Zealand’s largest scenic reserve). The gorge has many idyllic picnic spots and can be a fisherman’s paradise when the fish are biting.

Tauranga Track

  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 25km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 119km

Tauranga Track is on the right side of the road. This is a 2 – 3 hour walk up one of the first farmed areas in our district. It involves two creek crossings so you will get your feet wet. For those who prefer dry feet however at the start of the walk is the recently restored historic and picturesque Tauranga Bridge and is well worth a visit.

The gorge continues through Oponae and Wairata, where the Waioeka River turns south and the main road follows the Opato Stream.

Turn right over the bridge to find:-
[Wairata Station Farmstay]
Wairata Station Farmstay, Self contained cottages, meals, fishing, hunting, walks, kayaks, 4WD tours. Phone: 07 315 7761.

Manganuku Bridge

  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 47km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 97km

Keep an eye out for the Manganuku Bridge, just over it on the left is an honesty camping ground administered by D.O.C. that has toilets, barbecues and rubbish disposal. The charge is $7 per night per group. At the eastern end of the camp is the old main highway bridge which was replaced when the highway was realigned many years ago. Soon after the road starts to climb out of the gorge and wind its way up and over Traffords Hill, at 725 metres the high point in the trip, you are now in sheep and cattle country and cross the head waters of the Motu River, a right turn just after the bridge would take you through even more scenic back roads, to Wharekopae, Rere Falls & Rock Slide then onto Eastwoodhill Arboretum, joining SH2 again south of Gisborne.  Or continue on the main road to Matawai.


  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 72km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 72km

Matawai is a small rural settlement with store/restaurant, cafe and service station.

Before you leave the area turn left in the village and visit Motu and the falls.

[Matawai Camp and Art Gallery]
Matawai Camp and Art Gallery, Kitchen, showers, toilets, Insulated bunk houses, tent sites, trout fishing, bush walks, mountain biking. Main Road, Matawai Phone: 06 862 4800 or Main Office Gisborne 06 867 5016.

Motu Road

MOTU VILLAGE, once a thriving centre of the surrounding district is nestled in the scenic Motu River Valley.  Originally seven sawmills provided local industry and employment.  Now Motu is a very well established and productive farming community.

Special attractions include the Motu Falls and the Whinray Reserve Bush Walkwhich is an easy two hour walk along the old Military Track. (this is not a loop track but there is vehicle access from each end of the track). 

Or continue on the drive down “Old Motu Coach Road”, the original coach road through Motu and Toa Toa (the valley of the clouds), is an unforgettable experience. The rewards are many with wonderful views and the sense of passing back in time and travelling over what was at one time a major New Zealand highway.

The “Old Motu Coach Road” takes you 64km from Motu to the sea.  It is still the same as it was over 40 years ago. This trip down can make an interesting days outing from Opotiki by travelling from Opotiki through the gorge to Matawai, thence on to Motuhora and Motu.  A little detour here to the Motu Falls is well worth while and provides an ideal picnic spot. Then drive on to Toa Toa and back to Opotiki.  Allow a whole day – it’s worth it, but please drive carefully as it is a road that demands respect.

[Motu Trails Cycleway Hire & Shuttle]
Motu Trails Cycleway Hire & Shuttle, Cycle shuttle, bike hire and accommodation. Phone 07 929 7564 or 027 287 4283 (027 bushaven) 75 Church Street, Opotiki Phone: Phone 07 929 7564 or 027 287 4283 (027 bushaven).
[Toatoa Farmstay]
Toatoa Farmstay, Farmstay accommodation midway on the Motu Trail. Bike Hire & Tour Packages. Motu Road, Opotiki Phone: 07 315 8340.

On Leaving Matawai

The road to Gisborne follows the old railway track down through some majestic hill country that borders the Urewera National Park


  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 91km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 53km

Near the Otoko Hall you will find the western end of a Heritage Trail Walkway. (The eastern end of this walkway is at Mahaki). This walkway is 5kms in length, follows part of the old Gisborne to Motuhora Railway, taking 2 - 3 hours to complete and is suitable for all age groups.  there is a 500m detour to view a picturesque waterfall set amongst native bush that is noted for the kowhai blossom in spring.  The walkway is cloased during lambing season (1 August to 23 October).

On the right you will come across Makaretu Road where you will find Haurata High Country Retreat and Farm Walks.

As you emerge out of the hill country, with its sheep and cattle stations you enter the fertile Poverty Bay Flats where horticulture, vineyards, orchards and maize growing are the main rural activities.

[Haurata High Country Retreat and Farm Walks]
Haurata High Country Retreat and Farm Walks, Experience Gisborne's most spectacular scenery and accommodation. Visit our website for more information. 658 Makaretu Road, Otoko Email: tombleson@clear.net.nz. Phone: 06 867 8452.


  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 122km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 17km

You will see Eastern Star Orchard on the left just before the village of Ormond.

[Eastern Star Hide-a-Way Cottage]
Eastern Star Hide-a-Way Cottage, Fully self-contained sunny 2br. Cottage. Enjoy the views overlooking our mandarin orchard to the rolling hills. Burmese/Boarding Cattery on site. Ph Paul & Pauline. Phone: 06 862 5456.


  • Kilometres from Opotiki: 139km
  • Kilometres from Gisborne: 5km

Turn left on SH35 to Gisborne & East Cape or right to Wairoa and Napier.

At the intersection with SH2 you will find Roseland Tavern and heading towards Gisborne East Coast Museum of Technology and Showgrounds Park Motor Camp.

[Golf Driving Range]
Golf Driving Range, The Big One Stop Golf Shop. All Weather! Open 7 days. Resident Professional Dave Keown. Main Road, Makaraka Phone: 06 867 8839.
[Roseland Tavern]
Roseland Tavern, Great family meals & takeaways. Large range of beer, wine and spirits. New big projector screen. Bottle Store. Spacious Garden Bar. BBQ. 108 Main Road, Makaraka Email: manager@roseland.co.nz. Phone: 06 867 8315.
[East Coast Museum of Technology]
East Coast Museum of Technology, Encapsulating the history of the Gisborne area - an essential place to visit. Open daily 10am to 4pm. Main Road, Makaraka Phone: 06 868 8254.
[Showgrounds Park Motor Camp]
Showgrounds Park Motor Camp, 40 hectares of country in the city. Set amongst 100 year old trees. 5 minutes to the CBD. Handy to beaches and wineries. Adjacent to golf course and driving range. 50 powered sites, no size limits. 10 new cabins & communal facilities. On-site dump station free to campers. 20 Main Road, Makaraka Email: camp@gisborneshow.co.nz. Phone: 06 867 5299.

Map of the trip from Opotiki to Gisborne via Waioeka Gorge