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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

Thinking about visiting New Zealand's North Island? The stunning Gisborne region, also known as Eastland, is one place you must see.

Eastland and Gisborne region - nature's best

The stunning Gisborne region, characterised by its beautiful coastline and Te Urewera National Park , is a haven for nature lovers.

Wainui Beach Eastland - pic courtesy Tourism Eastland Inc.

Getting here

Located between the Bay of Plenty and the Hawke's Bay regions, the Gisborne region is a true coastal paradise.

Gisborne, a city with a population of around 40,000, is the main centre in the region. This bustling seaside community is located around 7 hours drive from both Auckland (in the north) and Wellington (in the south).

Refer to our State Highways map for more information.

Gisborne airport takes flights to and from Auckland and Wellington. It's around a one hour flight to Gisborne from both Auckland and Wellington.

The beautiful city of Gisborne - pic courtesy Ray Sheldrake

Welcome the new day

The Eastland region is the first place in the world to see the sunrise each day.  Yes, that's right. Here you can see the morning sun before anyone else on earth.

Visit Kaiti beach which, centuries apart, was the landing spot for both the first Maori and European arrivals.

Take a heritage walk and learn about this fascinating region.

A place of national parks, wild surf beaches, raging rivers, sparkling lakes, mountains, and wonderful walking tracks.

It's all here to see and enjoy.

Where to stay in the Gisborne Region

With a wide range of accommodation options, Gisborne is the perfect base from which to explore Eastland New Zealand.

You can search for everything from backpacker hostels to five star luxury accommodation, and read customer reviews by clicking here.

Maori culture and history of the region

Local Maori settlement dates back tens of generations. Maori tell of the Horouta waka, which was the very first Maori waka (canoe) to arrive in New Zealand, landing at Kaiti beach near Gisborne.

Maori settled at Titirangi, where fertile land allowed them to grow their crops. The elevated location was also the perfect spot for their fortified village (known as a "pa").

St Marys Church Tikitik

In 1769 Captain James Cook, a British explorer landed at Kaiti beach, near the landing spot of the first waka. At the time of his arrival the pa at Titirangi was unoccupied, but Maori villages still dotted the lower parts of the hill.

The region has a proportionally high population of Maori, and their culture can be seen in the many local meeting houses ("marae"), churches, and sacred sites.

The local tribes are the Ngati Porou, who reside in the coastal settlements, and the Tuhoe who occupy the Urewera inland areas. The Maori language, Te reo is commonly used.

Historic St Mary's church at Tikitiki is a fine example of the meeting of Maori and European culture. Bult in 1924 to commemorate the members of the Ngati Porou who died in World War 1, the external features are typically European. However the interior (designed in the 1920s by Sir Apirana Ngata), is typically Maori. Intricate carving and weaving highlight the traditional Maori skills.

Maori regard many local places as sacred ("tapu") and as such, prior permission is required for access to these places. Legend has it that Mt Hikurangi is the resting place of Maui, the waka used by ancient fishermen when they "caught" New Zealand's North Island. A wonderful place to view the sunrise, permission from Ngati Porou is needed before climbing the mountain.

Other Maori cultural experiences that you may like to check out are:

* Go on a Whale Rider tour and visit the filming location.

* Visit Te Poho O Rawiri Marae. The beautiful interior is covered in intricate Maori carvings and weavings. An appointment is necessary.

* Take in a Waka Toa cultural experience show.

Eastland and Gisborne Region - Great Food and Wine

Gisborne is known as the "Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand", and is home to numerous vineyards. Tours are very popular and many vineyards

Gisborne offers perfect conditions for production of fine wines

offer restaurants for mid day meals, and most have cellar door tasting.

As a coastal area, the Gisborne region is well known for fine local seafood.

Crayfish and fish and chips are popular, and little compares to a fresh seafood feast overlooking this beautiful coastline.

The region is also home to several fine restaurants offering a wide selection of local produce, and you will never be limited for choice.

Eastland and Gisborne Region - Fun In The Great Outdoors

The Gisborne region is an outdoor paradise. Here are just a few ideas for things to do in Gisborne:

* Visit Te Urewera National Park, home to one of New Zealand's Great Walks. The four day hike around Lake Waikaremoana is one of the nine New Zealand "Great Walks".

Tolaga Bay wharf - pic courtesy Eastland Inc.

There are also many great short walks in the region.

* Enjoy a drive along State Highway 35 for some amazing coastal scenery.

* Take a game fishing trip. There are several local operators, each with their own special spots and techniques.

* Swim with the dolphins and seals, feed the stingrays, or for those looking for a little more action, dive in a shark cage amongst Blue and Mako sharks.

* Fish for brown and rainbow trout in local rivers.

* The Gisborne region is famous for its surf beaches. Have a lesson, or for the experienced surfer, choose your break.

* Visit the stunning Rere Falls and Rere rockslide, a 60m natural slide.

* Snorkel at one of the many spots along the coast.

* Try white water rafting, a great thrill.

* Visit the regions stunning gardens, including the Botanical Gardens in Gisborne city.

* Visit the active volcano of White Island.

Kids exploring a rock pool near Gisborne

* Take a horse trek in the hills or on a beach.

* The region has over one dozen golf courses including Poverty Bay Golf Club (home to two New Zealand Amateur Championships) and Opotiki Golf Club, which features stunning views out to White Island.

* Soak your cares away in the hot pools at Morere Hot Springs.

* Kayak on beautiful Lake Waikareiti in Urewera National Park.

Some Interesting Gisborne Region Facts

* Have you seen the New Zealand film Whalerider? It is set in the region, and is the story of a local legend.

* The 660m long Tolaga Bay pier is New Zealand's longest.

* Maori legend has it that they believed Captain Cook's Endeavour to be a huge bird. They believed that the long boats were its chicks.

The following link will take you to the Tourism New Zealand website for more information on the Gisborne region.

State Highways map

Eastland / Gisborne Region Map

Gisborne Region Top of Page

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