We travelled from Tolaga Bay to Tokomaru Bay, 40km up the coast road, and pulled in to the Tokomaru Bay Motor Camp . The six of us were looking forward to a soak in the thermal hot pools at Te Puia Springs, so we set off after lunch. Driving in to the tiny settlement we looked around for the signs advertising the pools, but where were they? Surely in a place this small it shouldn’t be so hard to find? We came across a small information centre and two of the fellows went in to enquire. The hotel running the hot pools closed down two months ago, they were told. So as well as the hot pools not operating, so no soothing dip in the mineral waters for us, the pub has no beer! Isn’t there a song about that somewhere?
We then travelled down to hill to explore Waipiro Bay. The bay was beautiful, with a group of local children frolicking in the waves. It was here that Robert Kerridge opened his first picture theatre in 1923. The public buildings ranged from a well kept Maori meeting house, a pretty little church in need of some TLC, and the long abandoned Waipiro Trading Company.
Then it was back to Tokomaru Bay to check out our second old crumbling wharf in two days. The wharf served the Tokomaru Bay Freezing Works and the remains of the associated buildings are dotted along the shoreline. Tokomaru Bay was a thriving town many years ago in the days of coastal shipping. Like so many along the East Cape is now falling into decay.