When the sun rises for a new day, Tairāwhiti Gisborne is the first city in the world to see it. You can walk up Kaiti Hill, also known as Titirangi, and watch the dawn unfold across the Pacific Ocean. It's a Gisborne moment that will live with you forever.
Where to go and what to see in Tairāwhiti Gisborne
A holiday in Gisborne lets you experience New Zealand's sunny, outdoorsy lifestyle without having to roam the entire country. You get beautiful beaches, alfresco winery restaurants, forest hikes, interesting historic sites and scenery-saturated road trips - all within one compact region. Gisborne is an ideal stopover point between Auckland and Wellington.
Fresh air adventures
Surfers discovered Gisborne in the 1960s and they've been singing its praises ever since. If you've caught waves before, Wainui Beach is the place to hone your skills. Otherwise, sign up for surf school and discover whether you're goofy or natural.
A stunning place to hike is Cooks Cove Walkway which leads you through open grasslands and light bush down to Cooks Cove.
While Gisborne is heavy on the coastal beauty, it's equally blessed with an impressive hinterland where wilderness lakes, mountain ranges, dense forests and tumbling rivers beckon adventurous travellers. A stunning place to discover is Cooks Cove Walkway which leads you through open grasslands and light bush down to Cooks Cove. Explore the Hole-in-the-Wall rock formation and see the New Zealand Historic Places Trust memorial, commemorating Captain Cook's visit to the area in 1969.
For a big walk that's closer to the city, try Te Kuri Walkway. It's a four-hour round trip through a range of beautiful landscapes. The highlight is a lookout point 290 metres above sea level.
Biking is another way to embrace Gisborne sightseeing. The Motu Trails - part of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project - encompass a whole range of rides for off-roaders. The closest trail segment to the city is Rere Falls Trail, a refreshing way to discover Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Rere Falls and other Gisborne attractions. By combining the Rere Falls and Motu Road trails, you can create an epic coast-to-coast ride.
Tatapouri Bay's underwater world is another Gisborne treasure, especially if you have dive experience or like to snorkel. The snorkelling with stingrays adventure, available over summer, is a chance to observe wild-but-friendly stingrays as they glide along the sandy floor of the bay.
Eat, drink and enjoy
Time, that rare commodity, seems freely available around Gisborne and Tairāwhiti. Nobody wants to rush the business of making fine wine and artisan foods, so you can expect some delectable experiences to come your way.
A tour of cellar doors leads to favourites like Millton Vineyards, loved for riesling and chenin blanc; Matawhero Wines, where you can taste some of the region's famous chardonnays; and Bridge Estate, which has a cellar door in a 120-year-old stable. Around lunchtime you'll want to be at Bushmere Estate, which has an acclaimed restaurant - The Vines.
You can also tour the region's wines without leaving the city. At the Gisborne Wine Centre you can taste a range of gorgeous wines accompanied by an antipasto platter.
On Saturday mornings, the Gisborne Farmers' Market will tempt you with an outstanding array of fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses, bread and other delectable goodies. There's always live music and great coffee at this market.
City food adventures for the daytime include Verve Café & Bar, PBC Café, Zest Café, and Frank & Albies. In the evening check out USSCo or The Marina Restaurant. These are just a few of the many café and restaurant choices you'll find within walking distance of the CBD.
Exploring local history
Māori oral history tells us that Tairāwhiti is where the first Polynesian migration voyages landed. We also know that Kaiti Beach is where Captain Cook first made landfall and encountered New Zealand's Māori people. The moment is commemorated at the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve on Kaiti Beach Road.
For a concentrated approach to the region's history, visit the Tairāwhiti Museum to see exhibitions about Māori and colonial culture, as well as regularly changing contemporary exhibits. There's a separate building for C Company of the Māori battalion, where you'll find a profoundly moving collection of artefacts and stories.
Take your thirst for history and scenery on the road with a 334km road trip around East Cape. Highlights include the 660-metre Tolaga Bay Wharf, East Cape Lighthouse and the intricately decorated Māori church in Tikitiki. This journey includes many Māori meeting houses (whare) with ornately carved gateways and architecture.
Discovering a living culture
The highest point in Tairāwhiti is Mount Hikurangi, a mountain that's sacred to the local Ngāti Porou people. Climbing expeditions to the mountain's summit can be organised through Ngāti Porou. The ultimate way to experience this mountain is on a guided trip to see the sunrise with Maunga Hikurangi, a tour operator based in Ruatoria.
Every year in October, the Gisborne Wine & Food Weekend showcases the best of local food and wine at a selection of city, rural and beach venues. Another highlight of the year is Rhythm & Vines, a three-day musical festival featuring local and international acts. Held on December 29-31 each year, it's the first festival in the world to welcome in the first sunrise of the new year.
Best time to go
Gisborne is sheltered from westerly winds and has one of the sunniest climates in New Zealand. Summers are warm and winters are pleasantly mild. Any time of the year is good for surfing, hiking and visiting wineries. Eastwoodhill Arboretum is best in autumn.
How much will it cost?
This will depend on your tastes and what you want to do. As a rough guide, not including air travel and hotels, you should allow about NZD $100 to $150 a day per person for food and entertainment.