Feeding Rays – Eastcoast

Day three, Te Aroroa to Tatapouri

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Dive Tatapouri

Well that was an interesting night, woke up to a shaking camper van, thinking it was an earthquake I got up and looked outside, only to find a massive cow having a good old scratch on the back of the camper ๐Ÿ˜Š, a quick scare and back to sleep before another culprit woke me up again in the morning, tried to tell him thereโ€™s plenty of fence post he could use instead the van but he didnโ€™t listen and just carried on.

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Sun rise, East Cape Campground

After been rudely awaken I opened a few more curtains to see a purple sky on the horizon, the sun was on its way up and putting on a show. Time for a quick breakfast and then down to the beach for my morning walk and of course a few pictures.

The Destination for today is Tatapouri, 170km down the coast towards Gisborne. I start off heading back through Te Araroa and get back on to state highway 35, Snaking my way up through the native forest covered hills with the odd farm and down to Tikitiki, a small town on the edge of the Waiapu River, the river looked pretty dry, even though I came across a bit of rain yesterday, carrying on down the river, then though the plains until I get to Tokomaru Bay.another small town. Just as I got to the town I turned left off the main road and followed this road to the end. On the way, you go past the local pub, a few houses and an old freezing works building that was built in 1911. It handled 500 sheep plus 60 cattle every day, so it must have been a busy little town in the early days. At the end of the road is the Tokomaru Bay Wharf, that has seen been days but is a good place for a photo or two.

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Tolaga Bay Wharf

Next stop for the day is another wharf, this time Tolaga bay, New Zealandโ€™s longest wharf at 660m long, built back in the 1920โ€™s to help with the in transport of Livestock and other cargo to and from the region. Shipping was the cheapest way to transport goods from the area until more sufficient roading was established by the end of WW2. Eventually in 1965 the wharf was closed and today is just used for tourist, to take a stroll down, like myself, and the old fisherman trying to catch dinner.

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Dive Tatpouri

On to Tatapouri for my first tour on the trip. Today we are going to a company called Dive Tatapouri and they will take us out for their Ecology tour. It’s located on the reef just outside their office and we will get the chance to feed wild Stingrays. Excited and a tad nervous at the same time, as i’very never done something like this before. We all gather at the start of the tour and given waders to put on before a bamboo pole and a briefing was given. Today we are going to see and feed some Eagle rays, hopefully short tailed stingrays and lots of big King fish, sounds exciting. The group all head off on to the reef single file behind the tour guide, until we reach a buoy, 100m or so off the beach, where one of the tour guides had been feeding and bringing the rays in. Before long we were standing shoulder to shoulder out on the reef, holding out bamboo pole between our feet, and surrounded by half a dozen rays and a lot more King fish, quite a thrilling experience as the rays come right up to you, hugging your legs and the occasional one trying to suck on to your Boots thinking it lunch.

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Dive Tatapouri, kingfish and ray

Another amazing thing was to see these massive king fish, all over a meter long just swim around us, between us and giving us the odd splash as shoot of to grab a piece of fish that the guides had placed in the water. Now it was our turn, we all got given a piece of cut up fish fillet to hold and feed to the rays, not really knowing what to expect I place the bait under one of the rays that was cuddling my leg, suddenly I felt some strong suction and the bait was gone. Lunch time for the eagle ray. After everyone has feed the rays we head back in and for me itโ€™s time set up camp for the night. Lucky for me it will be right next door at Tatapori Motor camp. Nice little camp ground with plenty of tent sites, through to cabins and all the amenities. Starting at $18pp a night for a campsite up to $75 a night for 2 people in a cabin.

The sun is setting over the hills as I sit on the beach and other day on the trip has come to an end. Tomorrow I head a few kilometres down the road to Gisborne.

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