Eastland is the place where the first Polynesian migration canoes landed, where Captain Cook made his first landfall and where Maori and European first encountered each other. Maori life is evident in every settlement you see. There are carved meeting houses, beautifully painted Maori churches, children riding horses bareback on the beach and conversations in Te Reo. Deep in the misty Te Urewera Ranges, descendants of the ‘Children of the Mist’, the ancient Tuhoe tribe, still live in harmony with the forest around the village of Ruatahuna. The landscape – coastal and inland - is untamed and wild. You can lose yourself in the hills and valleys, and renew your inner peace on the beautifully natural beaches.
The largest population centre in the region is Gisborne, a city that manages to combine the science of fine wine making with the laid back, down-to-earth attitude of life in the sun. At 1,754 metres high, Mount Hikurangi is the first point on mainland New Zealand to see the sunrise each day. It's a very spiritual mountain for the Ngati Porou, the local Maori people. Climbing treks are by permission only from Te Runanga o Ngati Porou (Tribal Authority) 195 Wainui Road, Kaiti, Gisborne. There is an excellent alpine hut on the higher reaches of the mountain, allowing climbers stay the night and wake early to see the sunrise.
Mount Hikurangi: Mount Hikurangi recognised and accepted as the first point on the mainland to greet the morning sun. This highest peak (1752 metres) in the rugged Raukumara Range is revered by the Ngati Porou tribe as its sacred mountain.
Waioeka Scenic Reserve: Situated on South Highway 2 south of Opotiki, this 1800 hectare area is New Zealand's largest scenic reserve. The Waioeka River offers excellent trout fishing and swimming in a private, peaceful environment. Hunting, hiking, camping, picnics, canoeing, river rafting and swimming are other options for a great day outdoors.
Captain Cook's landing site and Young Nick's Head: Imagine the past at the historic site where, on 9 October 1769, Captain Cook first landed in New Zealand. Statues of Captain Cook and Young Nick (the first crewman to sight New Zealand) are situated at the mouth of the Turanganui River near Waikanae Beach.
- Enjoy fishing in Gisborne, salt or fresh water, you decide where the catch of the day comes from!
- Try your hand at surfing, Gisborne offers great surf beaches and surf schools are abundant in the area.
- Visit Gisborne’s art gallery
- Go on a “Whale Rider” tour, a guided Maori culture and history tour of the Whangara Village, home to the Whale Rider Movie. Your guide is a Maori elder, Hone Taumaunu.
- Experience an Eco Tour of the Gisborne coastline, a Reef Experience walk out on the reef at low tide watch our guides feed wild Stingray, see bait fish, eels and watch other marine animals in their natural habitat. View blue penguin habitats and help to protect the blue penguin.
- Go on a boat tour of Lake Waikaremoana
- Visit some of the best wineries in the Gisborne area
- Take a guided horse trek through unique native bush and river scenery
- Gisborne offers many sightseeing, group, private and guided tours
- Visit the Lindauer Cellars museum, A feature of the tastings is a winery tour and the opportunity to venture into the winery museum afterwards is always interesting
- Or just sit back and relax in the easy going atmosphere of Gisborne.