New Zealand’s most easterly city is the prosperous centre of the sun-drenched Eastland Region.
Gisborne was known to the Maori as Tairawhiti – ‘the coast where the sun shines across the water’ and in fact the city is the first place in the world to greet the sun each day. It is also known as the ‘Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand’ as the region’s vineyards specialise in that variety.
As a peaceful, laid back surfing town it has something of the magical quality of Byron Bay in New South Wales. It also shares a love of beautiful botanic gardens with its sister cities, Palm Desert-USA, Nonoichi-Japan and Gisborne-Australia. There is an endless choice of idyllic beaches, bush-fringed lakes and rivers, superb trout and sea fishing and unspoilt scenery. Here are some local highlights to explore:-
Start with an orientation walk along the Riverside Walkway
This follows the banks of the Turanganui and Taruheru rivers and leads to the excellent Botanic Gardens.
Follow the Tairawhiti Heritage Trails – both by car and on foot
These include the Matawhero battle site, Captain Cook monuments, a Canadian totem, Kaiti Beach Obelisk and Kaiti Hill Lookout.
Visit the local beaches and climb the headlands
Waikanae, Wainui, Midway and Makarori beaches offer great swimming, fishing and views to Young Nick’s Head.
Study Maori history and genealogy at Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae at the foot of Kaiti Hill
There are fine examples of traditional Maori carving and weaving here in one of New Zealand’s largest meeting houses.
Visit the Museum and Arts Centre and Star of Canada Maritime Museum
Both have fine displays of Maori and European artefacts, Gisborne’s oldest house, Wyllie Cottage and the bridge of the ship, Star of Canada, which was blown ashore in 1912.
See the Toihoukura Visual Arts Centre in Cobden Street
There are fine exhibits of painting, weaving, carving and sculpture to be seen here.
Drive out to Eastwoodhill Arboretum at Ngatapa west of Gisborne
This is New Zealand’s largest collection of Northern Hemisphere shrubs and trees. Also see Hackfall’s Arboretum at Tiniroto where there are 50 different Mexican oak trees.
Follow the local Wine Trail for free sampling and cellar door sales
Take in the Milton, Montana, Matawhero and Longbush vineyards and test Gisborne’s claim to be the Chardonnay Capital.
Take the Te Kuri Walkway, 4 km north of Gisborne
This three hour walk leads to a commanding viewpoint. Other walks up the coast include Cook’s Cove, Anaura Bay, Wharerata and Otoko.
Seek out adventure pursuits in the beautiful Urewera National Park
Lake Waikaremoana offers one of the best Great Walks in New Zealand. Hunting and trout fishing are outstanding in the Urewera.
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