Gisborne is the main centre of the Eastland region, and boasts of being the first place in the world to see the sun each day, thanks to its proximity to the International Date Line. With around 33,000 residents, it’s a rural town wrapped in increasingly cosmopolitan and affluent packaging. Gisborne calls itself the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand, and there are numerous boutique vineyards in the region, as well as a restaurant culture in the heart of the palm-tree lined city.
Gisborne has one of the sunniest climates in New Zealand and there are some good beaches nearby. Kaiti Beach was the site of Captain Cook’s first landing in New Zealand, an event memorialised by statues of both Cook and his cabin boy Nick Young, who was the first crew member to spot land.
As in most of the East Cape, there is a strong Māori presence around Gisborne.
If you’re on your way to travel around the East Cape, this is a good place to stock up on cash, fuel and supplies, and maybe a good meal in a fine restaurant; Gisborne is the most developed city you’ll see for a while.