My fiancé and I went to East Cape, the most eastern part of the North Island in New Zealand with the intention of spending the night camping at East Cape Campground. Instead, things took an unexpected turn and we ended up setting up camp in the vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station, East Cape.
This priceless, one-of-a-kind experience was made possible thanks to the generosity and kindness of New Zealand Police Officer, Constable James. He happens to be the sole charge constable at Te Araroa Police Station, East Cape. 🙂
Te Araroa, East Cape @ North Island, New Zealand
Te Araroa is a small town approximately 17km from East Cape, the most eastern point in New Zealand. Due to its proximity to the International Date Line, East Cape is one of the first places in the world to see the rising sun. Thus, it is a popular destination among the locals and visitors to welcome the new year and see the first sunrise in the world.
Te Araroa means “The Long Path” in English and is it located at the end of one of the most isolated roads in the North Island of New Zealand. The region is blessed with an abundance of seafood and wild game. Pig and deer hunting, fishing trips and Māori history tours can be arranged in the town.
Te Araroa is a self-sufficient tiny coastal settlement with a population of approximately 600 people. The town has a café and takeaway store, a well-stocked Four Square general store, a self-service pay-at-pump petrol station with petrol and diesel available, a school, and a police station. The world’s oldest and largest Pohutukawa tree, East Cape Lighthouse and historic Whetumatarau Pa site are all located in Te Araroa, East Cape.
Camping in the Vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station
We arrived at Te Araroa, East Cape in the evening after an hour’s drive from the scene of the accident. New Zealand Police Officer Constable James offered to drop us off at East Cape Campground, but we decided to stay in Te Araroa Township instead for convenience’s sake. Upon knowing that, he generously offered us an opportunity to stay in his caravan or camp in the vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station which is located next to his house.
Tony and I decided to pitch a tent while the rest of the girls spent the night in the caravan. When he saw us struggling to pitch up our tent, he offered his help to us. In addition, he opened up his house to us and allowed us to use his toilet, bathroom and kitchen to cook our meals; all that just to make our stay as enjoyable and comfortable as possible – talk about Kiwi hospitality!
He even got his aunt who works as a nurse that happens to be visiting to check on my injury and made sure that I was okay. Besides that, he also lent us bicycles to use for exploring the surrounding areas. There are just no words to describe how grateful we felt and we could not thank him enough for his generosity and kindness.
Multiple Siren Alarms & the ECT Rescue Helicopter
One of the highlights of our camping experience in the vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station, East Cape is the time we heard and felt a helicopter hovering above our tent while we were sleeping at about 2am in the morning. Unfortunately, we were too tired to find out what was happening outside of our tent and slept through the entire experience. 😛
The next day, we were rudely woken up by the blaring sound of a long, wailing siren. Since we were in close proximity to the sea, we immediately identified it as a possible tsunami alert. We looked for Constable James, but he was not around. Instead, his aunt came rushing to us and hurried us to evacuate the area immediately.
While doing so, we noticed that the neighbours were leisurely going about their daily morning activities as if nothing happened. They were unfazed by the sound of the siren. No one else was seen rushing out from their homes or tried to flee the area. We were puzzled by what we saw. Later, we found out that the siren goes off whenever there is an accident or a fire to alert the local authorities. Since that incident, we heard multiple siren alerts in a day and over the course of 2 weeks we spent there.
I will always remember the first time we heard the siren and tried to flee the area thinking a tsunami was upon on. It was a shocking, nerve-wrecking experience, but thankfully it was a false alarm. We also found out that the ECT Rescue Helicopter was parked in the open field behind us. That explained our unexpected helicopter experience the day before – what a way to start our adventure in East Cape, North Island, New Zealand! 😉
Up next: Sightseeing in Te Araroa town – its scenic beach, waterfront, and the largest and oldest Pohutukawa tree in the world