Nestled between Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay on the East Cape north of Gisborne, is the beautifully rugged Anaura Bay. It’s about 7km from the main highway, down a winding road that is often only wide enough for a single vehicle. Luckily there is not much traffic out this way, and the view that awaits you as you crest the final hill is more than worth the hairy drive in.

There are two campgrounds here, and we chose to stay at the DOC-managed one as we have a DOC pass that, for a one-off annual fee, allows us to stay at most of their camps – except over the Christmas and New Year period.

Stunning views await you as you wind your way to Anaura Bay

The campground is right on the beach and is slightly different to many other DOC camps in that there are no toilets or showers, so if you want to stay then you need to have your own toilet facilities. No problem for us, but the camp wardens were turning away quite a few tent campers as they didn’t have toilets.

After setting up camp, we headed down to the beach, just a few steps away, to explore. We’d spoken to the camp warden Marty, who’d said that the waves had been huge for the last few days due to a storm offshore, and had washed away the dunes that surrounded a lagoon on the beach.

Sunset over the DOC camp at Anaura Bay

The lagoon was now open to the ocean, and was filling and draining as the pounding surf pushed wave after wave up the beach.

The beach itself is stunning, with towering headlands at each end, with rolling hills providing a gorgeous backdrop to the beautiful white sands.

Captain Cook plaque

We went for a walk along the beach and passed many of the seabirds that make the lagoon their home, such as white-faced herons, oystercatchers, dotterels and pied stilts.

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