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Here, you’ll find New Zealand the way it used to be. Steeped in early New Zealand history and Maori myths and legends, Eastland is a region untouched by the outside world. You’ll discover old whaling settlements, quaint churches, golden beaches and some of the best food & wine in the country.
Mount Hikurangi, of great importance to the local Maori tribe Ngati Porou, dominates the landscape here. Legend has it that when the demigod Maui fished up the North Island of New Zealand, Mount Hikurangi was the first point to emerge from the ocean. It’s also recognised as the first point in New Zealand to greet the morning sun.
Take time out visiting the sunny seaside town of Gisborne, known for its arty culture, beautiful beaches and world-class vineyards. Many old Maori traditions are still visible here – listen for conversations in Te Reo, watch children on horseback and be fascinated by the cultural relics housed in local Tairawhiti Museum.
Dramatic, Untouched Coastline
Known as one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, Eastland is home to miles of perfect coastline. There are spectacular ocean views along the dramatic Coastal Highway; make sure to look out for the steaming volcano of White Island offshore from Opotiki. Anaura Bay is touted as the most beautiful beach in the area with its pristine golden sand and often-calm waters. Lined with Pohutukawa trees, it’s a calming, relaxing piece of coastline that’s perfect for an afternoon stroll. Don’t miss pretty Tolaga Bay with its huge, 660-metre long wharf – the longest in the Southern Hemisphere – built so that large coastal trading ships could load and offload goods. These days, the wharf makes an excellent place for stunning views of the bay itself; locals also use it as a place to go fishing.
Early New Zealand History
Eastland played a prominent part in early New Zealand history. Gisborne’s Titirangi Hill is the place where the very first Maori canoes landed in New Zealand. What’s more, nearby Kaiti Bay is the place where Captain Cook – who later claimed New Zealand as a British colony – first made landfall. Those very first encounters between the Maori and the European people took place in this region, shaping New Zealand’s history and identity for years to come.
Be humbled by a visit to St Mary’s, a beautifully-decorated church that was built in 1924 as a memorial to the soldiers of Ngati Porou, the local Eastland tribe, who died in World War One.
Delicious food & Wine
A region blessed with high, hot sunshine hours and fertile clay soil, it’s no wonder that Eastland is a mecca for talented winemakers. Local vineyards cover vast, fertile plains, creating world-renowned Chardonnay as well as Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Don’t miss enjoying a glass of one of these local specialties while basking in the late afternoon sun.
At MoaTrek, we weave the very best experiences and places New Zealand has to offer into our small group tours. Our 6-day East Cape Caper Tour follows the road less travelled, incorporating Eastland’s stunning coastline, fascinating history and local hospitality. Learn more on our website, or contact us now.