Penny took a group of 15 on the most amazing tour of the East Cape. Many tour companies whiz through the area with a few obligatory stops, but that’s not how Calder & Lawson Tours do things! We took our time exploring this fascinating part of the country.
We were so lucky to have a local, Graeme Williams, with us for three days taking us to the back-country stations we visited Waikura, Puketoro & Puketiti. He is a direct descendant of Bishop William Williams. The Williams family have farmed on the coast for 120 years & Graeme’s knowledge is unparalleled, it was his local connections that allowed us access to places that no other tour companies go. You may have heard him on Radio New Zealand, he’s a bit of a bush poet & has featured on Country Calendar. A very funny man & integral to our tour. On the combined stations of the McNeil’s, they run nearly 200 dogs. Each shepherd has 6-9 dogs & we were lucky to strike a day they were training these eager young ones.
Apart from the station visits, we also visited the East Coast Cannabis Company to see their hemp trials and hear how they are providing local people with education & training in horticulture. They put down a hangi for us which was delicious!
Coming down the coast we included a reef ecology tour & feeding the stingrays at Tatapouri. We were amazed at how soft they felt and how friendly and not scary at all they were. Especially when the resident favourite named “Pancake” sat on our feet & blew bubbles.
Our last few days in Gisborne we visited a winery for a tasting, visited the national arboretum gorgeous Eastwoodhills, Tairawhiti Museum one of the best provincial museums in NZ, Tiromoana Gardens and enjoyed a delicious farewell dinner complete with local wines.
During the tour our erstwhile coach driver, John Lawson, managed to drive on gravel roads, golf courses and even an airstrip as we took to heart the goal of getting “off the beaten track”.
We will run this tour again in 2021/22. Please contact us if you are keen to come.