New Zealand Working Holiday (Part 37) : Driving to East Cape from Gisborne on State Highway 35 & the Accident

If you ask what is the scariest moment I ever had in my life? The answer is the accident I had on State Highway 35 during our drive to East Cape from Gisborne, New Zealand. Then again, even though things did not go as planned, we did have an epic and an unforgettable adventure no less! 😉

The plan was to see the first sunrise in the world in conjunction with the 2017 New Year’ Eve celebration. So, several friends of mine, my fiancé and I hopped into the car and drove all the way to East Cape from Gisborne on State Highway 35. The journey was expected to take about 3.5 hours, but something unexpected happened along the way…


An Unfortunate Accident

Somewhere in a remote area near the rural town of Ruatoria, we met with an unfortunate accident. Long story cut short, we went through the fence and crashed into an empty paddock located on the other side of the road. It could have been worse if we crashed head-on into the lamp post, but thanks to Tony’s good driving skills and our lucky stars, we managed to avoid it. Phew, what a close call!

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured or had to be taken to the hospital. Tony had some cuts and bruises on his hands from the broken pieces of flying glass while I suffered a whiplash from the impact of the collision. My three other friends who were seated in the back – one had a head bump while the other two were okay.

At the moment of impact, I remember seeing broken pieces of glass flying through the air in slow motion – no kidding! 😱 Then, I felt a sharp pain radiating from the centre of my back and chest and I was unable to breathe for several seconds. I was horrified and that felt like the scariest moment in my life!


One of the many views on the state highway in New Zealand
A scenic drive on the highway in New Zealand


Good Samaritans & New Zealand Police Officers

We took several minutes to process what had just happened and called the police. Several passersby stopped to check and see if we were okay and even offered to help. One of them took the effort to inform the owner of the paddock of what had just happened.

In 30-40 minutes, two police officers arrived and accessed the situation. The owner of the paddock, Mr. Munro arrived on his ATV (all terrain vehicle) a couple of minutes later. The police officers and Mr. Munro were friendly and helpful. They tried their best to help us get through the experience and salvage the situation.

Mr. Munro offered to tow and store our damaged car at his place before the car will be towed away a couple of days later due to the holidays. He even declined our offer to pay for the damaged fence which was later settled by the insurance company – thank goodness the car was insured! It helped to pay for the damages, emergency accommodation, bus tickets and taxi fare to get back home safely after our East Cape escapade.

P.s. I cannot stress more on the importance of having your vehicle insured especially if you plan to drive around in New Zealand because you will never know when your vehicle will break down, be damaged or involved in an accident and needs repairs or towing assistance which is not cheap by the way. 💸


A breathtaking view of the eastern side of the North Island, New Zealand
The drive to Te Araroa, East Cape from Gisborne via State Highway 35


On the Bright Side – A Free Ride to Te Araroa, East Cape

Upon knowing that we were on our way to East Cape to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, one of the police officers, Constable James offered to drop us off at Te Araroa, East Cape so that we will be able to carry on with our plan. And so, we scored ourselves a free ride to our destination. 😀

I believe things happen for a reason and it was fortunate that we got the free ride because the road or drive on State Highway 35 to Te Araroa was pretty scary; think narrow, winding roads with sharp bends and steep drops all the way and I cannot believe the speed limit was 100km/h! Yikes!! But the view was unbelievably stunning and beautiful!

Believe it or not, the free ride was just the beginning of the many good things to come our way during our stay at Te Araroa, East Cape. Instead of setting up camp as planned at East Cape Campground, we ended up setting up camp in the vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station instead. Curious to know how that happened or what happened next? Stay tune for the next blog post. 😉


We met with an unexpected accident on State Highway 35 while driving to East Cape from Gisborne, New Zealand


Up next: A priceless, one-of-a-kind camping experience in the vicinity of Te Araroa Police Station


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