Tairawhiti is the place where the first Polynesian canoes landed, James Cook made his first landfall and Maori and European first encountered each other.

Gisborne, the largest settlement in Tairawhiti, is the first city in the world to see the sun each day.

The city is compact, easy to navigate and surrounded by world class surf beaches, quality vineyards, groves of citrus, magnificent trees and wild rivers that meander towards empty beaches.  

In this relaxed and tucked-away part of the country, the world moves slowly; horses and bare feet are common forms of transport. You might wish to take a car but you’ll also want to take your time.

Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and Māori culture is evident in every settlement you see. There are carved meeting houses, beautifully painted Māori churches, and conversations in Te Reo. Venture up Mount Hikurangi, the sacred mountain of the Ngāti Porou people, and you'll see giant carvings of figures from Māori folklore. Other highlights are the impossibly long wharf at Tolaga Bay, stingray feeding at Tatapouri, the magnificent Tikitiki church, and sunrise at the East Cape Lighthouse.

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. You’re unlikely to come across them if you go hiking in Te Urewera, but hire a local guide and you’ll learn some of their stories and legends while exploring the largest untouched native forest in the North Island. 

Sunny Tairawhiti is famous for its beautiful, often deserted beaches, and its exhilarating and diverse surf breaks. Hire a surf board and get out there, or watch the peeling waves from the comfort of your outstretched beach towel. Other popular pastimes include fishing, diving, cycling, mountain biking and golf. 

Trying the wine here is a must. Known as the "chardonnay capital of New Zealand", Gisborne produces premium white wines that can be readily enjoyed on a scenic winery tour.

Accommodation in Tairawhiti can be as fancy as an upmarket lodge, boutique B&B or waterfront hotel. But Tairawhiti is also heaven for those in motorhomes or tents, with plenty of freedom camping amid picture-perfect scenery.

Some of The Many Attractions

Journey to the First Light

Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise Experience is a unique and unforgettable experience to greet the dawn in the land of the first light.

Be the first in the world to welcome the new day in the land of the first light. Your journey to the top begins at the base of Maunga Hikurangi (Mount Hikurangi) in Ruatoria. Under the dark Southern skies and a blanket of brilliant stars, the Te Urunga-Tu Sunrise Experience is an adventure like no other.

Bundled up with helmets on, traverse the serene landscape by 4WD, cross fertile farmland and rural pastures until you reach the first point of mainland New Zealand to see the sunrise each day.

Meet Stingrays on the Tatapouri reef

Under the watchful eye of the expert guides from Dive Tatapouri, you can head to the shallow reef at low tide and observe stingrays and eagle rays up close. The stingrays are wild but their inquisitive nature brings them close to the shore. 

Stingrays named 'Pancake' and 'Waffle' like to sit on people's feet!

Cycle an historic railway

When the railway lines near Gisborne ceased operation in 2012, the team at Gisborne Railbike Adventures saw this as an opportunity to experience the railway by bike.

So grab some friends and cycle over the 500 metre long Waipaoa River rail bridge, or admire the sea views on a coastal loop near Muriwai or on the Mahia peninsula. Easy riding means age is no barrier and there are also E-bikes available. 

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Check out the Tourism New Zealand website for more information about the amazing things to see and do in New Zealand

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