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Gisborne and East Cape

If you have a strong interest in Maori culture - and you love food, wine and surf beaches - Gisborne is a city you won't want to miss.

A scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (SH35) around the East Cape reveals a world of sun-drenched surf beaches without the big crowds, a rugged coastline full of secluded hidden bays and a place with a rich cultural heritage not yet commercialised. Sometimes described as being stuck in a time warp, the East Cape hasn’t changed much for decades and is the best place to get a taste of New Zealand’s ‘chilled out coastal way of life’.

It is a region of many firsts!

Gisborne is the first city in the world to welcome the sun each morning. If you spend a few days exploring different parts of the East Cape (highly recommended!), you will get a dazzlingly different sunrise experience at each new location.

It is one of the first wine regions in New Zealand and is recognised globally for its Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer and Chenin Blanc. As the unofficial ‘Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand’, Gisborne has a comprehensive wine trail leading to boutique wineries. Several operators offer custom tours tailored for individuals or groups, to spare you the problem of driving.

It is the surf capital too. Gisborne has got, arguably, New Zealand’s best breaks and can guarantee a choice of surf for every age and level of expertise.

Kaiti Beach is the site of Captain Cook’s first landing in New Zealand (9 October 1769).

Despite the remote location, the East Cape hosts a few iconic sights that simply cannot be missed when you visit. The longest concrete wharf in the Southern Hemisphere, 660-metre long Tolaga Bay Wharf, is located just 55km from Gisborne. It takes about half an hour to walk to the end and back and is an ideal fishing spot. Further up the coast the eastern edge of the country is marked by the East Cape Lighthouse. After climbing the 700+ steps to reach the lighthouse, not only will you be standing at the easternmost point of New Zealand, but you’ll also be treated to an unbeatable view of the rugged surrounding coastline.

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