This part of NZ (where I grew up) is largely untouched by tourism and reflects the real NZ, laid back and multicultural.
The drive from Opotiki to Gisborne around the East Cape has some amazing scenery and a few well spaced apart pubs and cafes for a break - try Two Fish cafe in Opotiki - or pack a picnic and find a shady spot near the sea. Rugged scenery and beautiful coastline.
Returning through the Waioeka is a great drive too. If you can, visit in December when the Pohutukawas are in bloom.
Almost no public transport. www.opotiki.co.nz
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