Gisborne, the most easterly city in the world, is the first city on the planet to see the light of each new day; it’s where Māori landed their voyaging waka (canoes) in the 14th century after navigating across the Pacific Ocean; it’s home to Millton Vineyards and Winery, the first producer in New Zealand to gain Bio-Gro certification for organic wine production in 1989; and it’s not far from Rocket Lab, the world’s first private rocket launch pad at the tip of Mahia Peninsula.

Take time to check out these places in and around Gisborne and soak up some history before you head out on the road.

The controversial statue of Captain James Cook on Titirangi-Kaiti Hill. Photo by Justine Tyerman

When visitors come to Gisborne, locals always drag them up the steep steps to the scenic lookouts on Kaiti Hill, known as ‘Titirangi’ in Māori. You can also drive up if steps aren’t your thing.

Take in the breathtaking views across the bay and the fertile flats dissected by three major rivers. It’s a perfect spot to view Young Nick’s Head (Te Kurī a Pāoa), named after Nicholas Young, Captain James Cook’s cabin boy on the HMS Endeavour, who first sighted the sheer white cliffs in October, 1769. Near the top, there’s a controversial statue of Captain Cook overlooking the bay. Is it Cook or not?

Labour Weekend wine and food festival at TW Wines. Picture by Strike Photography

Cook stepped ashore for the first time on Aotearoa–New Zealand soil at a site marked by a tall obelisk at the foot of Titirangi – it’s near where the historic first meeting between Māori and European took place in 1769. Tragically, the encounter was marred by a series of misunderstandings that resulted in the deaths of several Māori.


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