Te Araroa to Gisborne
This is a fairly taxing day with three sizeable hills through mostly pleasant farmland. At Tikitiki (27 km) there is a café and backpackers. Tikitiki is noted for St Mary's Church and its Māori woven panels and carvings.
Ruatoria (20 km) has a small supermarket and some interesting old buildings but no campground. Like many north island small communities Ruatoria has seen more prosperous days.
Just inland from Ruatoria you pass Mt. Hikurangi on your right, apparently the first place in New Zealand to see the sun each morning. Another 26 ks will bring you to Te Puia Springs (thermal pools, store, takeaways and hotel... possible camping if you ask).
A further 11 km will take you downhill into Tokomaru Bay. This was indeed a more prosperous settlement with extensive ruins of the abandoned freezing works and cargo store now being overtaken by scrub. There is a store, basic backpackers, hotel and camping. Tokomaru Bay has a substantial wharf and seafront all of which give the area a sense of interesting but sad decay.
This side-trip wanders off the highway (7 km out and 7 km back) to Anaura Bay (motor camp/camping). A bit of an excursion but well worth the effort. Anaura Bay is a beautiful spot to camp.
Depending on your legs you may choose to carry on directly to Gisborne (about 77 km from Anaura Bay). Perhaps by now though you're in the mood for an easy day and are happy just to saunter along to Tologa Bay (22 km from Anaura Bay).
Tokomaru Bay to Tologa Bay
After the initial climb out this is all generally downhill with only minor rises and falls in the road. Tologa Bay is a well established settlement and known for the longest wharf in New Zealand. It has a pub, camping (3ks out of town) and store. Highlights are Captain Cooks Cove... a longish walk (2.5 hours return, 5ks) from the wharf.
Tologa Bay to Gisborne
A rise in the road takes you out of Tologa Bay and then the road declines in gentle rises and falls into Gisborne. There are several notable places to camp, most are informal. Some of the beaches are lovely; Waihau Beach (turn left down Waihau Rd, 18 km out of Tologa Bay) is beautiful with colonies of sea birds. You will pass Pouawa and Turihau Beach and there is informal camping just before Tatapouri (right on the beachfront, 44 km from Tologa Bay) and then Wauinui Beach which is practically in the outskirts of Gisborne.
Gisborne is a substantially large town or small city - good for supplies and bits for the bike. Gisborne is a place where choices must be made. One possibility is to cycle back up highway 2 to Matawai. From here you can take the Old Motu Coach Road and make a loop back to Ōpōtiki. For those wanting to head south there are several options which I will describe next...