Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Lottin Point & Another Wharf- East Coast


We'd heard about Lottin Point a few times but hadn't managed to visit it on our last (one and only) road trip around the coast. Then, the road across the top from Waihau Bay to Hicks Bay, seemed to go on forever winding it's way through native bush and pine forest interspersed with sparsely populated farmland. And to be honest, we were in a hurry, we'd stayed in Waihau Bay and had to be in Gisborne the next night and visit East Cape and all the settlements down the coast along the way. Ha! Those were the days- 3 days off, lets race around the East Coast, that'll be a relaxing trip. Not. 

Now that we were based in Te Araroa for a few days we could take a leisurely tiki tour to check out Lottin Point. The road climbs sharply over Haupara Point at the end of the bay, we stopped at a break in the bush (it's actually a landslide under repair) to take a photo looking back along the magnificent coast to Te Araroa tucked under the cliffs at the far end.

...and then it's over the top and another stop at a lookout for a view out over Hicks Bay. We'll call into Hicks Bay on the way home. When we do day trips we find it best to head to the furthermost point first and then explore on the way home otherwise we either run out of time, the weather changes or we get tired and can't be bothered driving any further. 

It's 30kms to the Lottin Point turn-off at Potaka and another 5kms down a very narrow winding road and part gravel track to a bay at the bottom of the hill. We're not surprised when we see a familiar caravan ahead of us, it's Lyn & Sean from Greymouth. 

They'd been parked behind us at Moreporks Nest for the last few days and we'd said our goodbyes earlier in the day. They thought they might head to Lottin Point but were unsure. Looks like they have decided to go for it.

It's a surprise to see a Lottin Point motel sign and then the motel itself half-way down the hill. This is a long way from civilization but wow, what a spot to come to if you're looking for solitude or perhaps to go fishing or diving. There's a helicopter pad at the front of the lawn so I expect a few guests arrive that way. 

Once we get to the bottom of the hill  the road passes through farmland heading towards a little bay tucked into the elbow formed by Lottin Point.

Not far from the last drop down into the bay we have to stop to open a gate. I'm excited to see a small herd of water buffalo in the paddock beside the gate.  I say a friendly hello to the bull who has wandered over to see what I am doing and I reach back into the ute to get my camera. Just as I take this photo he decides he doesn't like me and bellows and jumps at me. 

I have never moved so fast in all my life, the trouble is David had pulled the ute in close (so the caravan could pass) and I couldn't get around the end of it because of a ditch. Thank God for the electric wire along the top of the fence because like many things on the Coast, the fence is pretty flimsy, he stops just short of the wire. And actually, I have moved as fast, when a large monkey baring a mouth full of very sharp teeth tried to climb in my car window in Langkawi- I ended up sitting on David's lap and the gear stick and he couldn't drive away! 

Lyn & Sean carry on through the gate but they wait for us to pass them again before they attempt the last stretch down to the bay. It's a very narrow gravel track through some large trees with overhanging branches and there's also been a wash-out. It would be touch and go for us to get the rig down here.

The finger of land that is Lottin Point reaches out into the Pacific Ocean, the track ends at a tiny rocky bay tucked into the bottom of the point. The water is a deep emerald green, crystal clear and sparkles in the sun. Great swathes of kelp attached to the rocks sweep back and forward in the tide, this would be the perfect place to fish, dive and kayak or just have a swim in the calm waters. A local lady is collecting seaweed for her garden.

Huge gnarly old pohutukawa trees line the shoreline, many with large clumps of the epiphyte Astelia (also know as Perching lily, Kahakaha, or Widow Maker) growing in their branches. Don't you love the 'Widow Maker' name, imagine the damage a clump of that would do hitting you on the scone! It's pleasing to see that one monster tree that has lost it's footing and been blown over, has many new shoots along it's truck and branches. But it's also sad to think of what Myrtle Rust may do to these beauties in the future. 

There's not much space to set up camp as much of it is uneven or deep gravel and there's also a small ford to cross to get to one area. There's a strip of grass along the back of the beach and a grassy area set back off the water behind the pohtukawa. A fisherman has left his vehicle on the only flat spot in one area, a house truck is behind the trees and Sean & Lynn find the last flat area in the middle.

We leave them to set up camp and drive down to the end of the bay to have lunch, they join us for a coffee afterwards and then we say our farewells once again. Easter is fast approaching and they think they'll stay put for the long weekend- wise people.

We head back up the road; here's another photo showing you the track through the trees and a little of the washout just in case you're thinking you might visit in your motorhome. Sorry, it's not quite in focus, I was holding on as we bumped our way up the track.

The water buffalo had moved on and had been replaced by a number of piglets of various sizes who were wandering about or sunning themselves along the side of the road. They weren't in a hurry to move either.

At the top of the road I took one last photo and it was then that I spotted another herd of buffalo...

...lazing about and wallowing in a water hole. Many of the cows had calves with them. 

We headed back towards Hicks Bay, on the way up I had noticed a sign on a gate 'Nipple Hill Farm', and thought that's a rather odd name to call your farm. There must be a story behind it. Well there is and here it is, Nipple Hill, which can be seen very clearly when you're heading east.

We turned off into Hicks Bay where it's interesting to see the signpost as we pass the school. Kura is short for Kura Kaupapa which is a Maori language immersion school. I'm sure there are a few around the country (and especially on the East Coast) but this is the first one I've been alerted to by the signpost.

At the end of the bay are the old freezing works ruins; one of the reason there's another old historic wharf here on the East Coast.

The road- or track because surely it can't be called a road- into the historic Hicks Bay Wharf hasn't improved one iota from our last visit here 7 years ago. It might not have improved but it certainly is no worse, it's still mostly mud and large water filled pot holes.

Access to the top of the rickety wharf is blocked off but you can wander around underneath it at low tide.

The rocky platform provides an ideal place to fish from too, can you see the guy up under the wharf near the edge.

But it's the nearby rocks that are obviously the best place to fish from, these locals told me they've been here for much of the day and they have a sack of fish. One of the guys tells me to select a fish or two from the bag, I don't know why, but I politely decline. They then show me the large kingie and huge sting-ray that are chasing their bait back and forward along the edge of the rocks.

We leave them fishing, one of them pulling in another kahawai, as we bump our way back over the track and head for home. Done for another day.

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