AUTUMN ADVENTURES IN Eastland
Gisborne and the Eastland region is a great getaway destination for epic holidays with some of the best weather in the land and a healthy helping of beautiful white sandy surf beaches that aren’t swamped with people. A stunning place to visit in Autumn is New Zealand’s National Arboretum – Eastwoodhill when the leaves are changing colour. But each changing season offers something new, with the flowers of Spring a delight and the large established trees offering a shady place to relax and unwind in Summer.
Make your way inland through the spectacular Poverty Bay Flats, the drive to Eastwoodhill will take you through fertile countryside where much of the fresh produce grown in New Zealand comes from, not to mention the plethora of vineyards that make this a stunning drive.
Eastwoodhill Arboretum was established by local farmer Douglas Cook over 100 years ago. With 135 hectares of established gardens it is New Zealand’s largest collection of Northern Hemisphere shrubs, trees and climbers in a picturesque setting. There are many different walking tracks, mountain biking and also open backed jeep tours where your guide will regale you with tales about the trees and the development of the property as they drive you around the arboretum.
A few minutes’ drive up the road from Eastwoodhill is Rere Waterfall, a lovely spot to swim and picnic, or simply just sit and experience the natural beauty of this place. For the more adventurous, natural forces have conspired to create an epic and truly unique experience in the Gisborne countryside that attracts thousands of local and visiting thrill-seekers. Rere Rockslide is sixty metres of sheer exhilaration as the waters of the Wharekopae River race down a giant slab of mosscovered sandstone into a naturally-formed freshwater pool. Best experienced with an inflatable device, you’ll want to take this ride over and over again. Fortunately the opposite riverbank acts as a naturally formed stairway to get you back up and ready to go.
Once you’ve had your fill of Autumn wonders at Eastwoodhill and Rere, head south towards Wairoa along State Highway 2 for a treat not to be missed. Soak your travel weary bones in the thermal waters at Morere Hot Springs. Rare in the world of hot springs, the Morere Springs produce 250,000 litres a day of hot ancient sea water that’s known for its therapeutic values. The 364 hectare bush reserve has walking tracks, from 10 minutes to 3 hours, through a rare stand of lowland North Island rainforest.
Now that you’re not spending every moment in summer time pursuits, there’s ample time had to see another side of this lovely wee surf town and the surrounds.
The Eastland region is a paradise for cycling. Best known is the Motu Trails, one of 23 Great Rides that make up the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Motu Trails offers everything from easy family riding to true back
country escape. The two main entry points onto the Motu Trails are Opotiki and Matawai, which is just one hour’s drive from Gisborne. The Eastland section of the Pacific Coast Highway, State Highway 35, is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The views are simply stunning and the laidback “Coastie” way of life a delight. There is something special about the isolation, the sometimes stark beauty and the interesting characters you meet along the way. Highlights are the impossibly long wharf at Tolaga Bay, stingray feeding at Tatapouri, the magnificent Tikitiki church, the carvings at Mt Hikurangi, the ancient Pohutukawa Tree at Te Araroa and sunrise at the East Cape Lighthouse.
Gisborne is lucky enough to occupy a beautiful and remote part of New Zealand. Its isolation perched out on the most easterly edge of the country has shaped the town and its charming coastal character and saved it from over development.
It is a compact city and apart from a journey of discovery of the region to unique places such as Eastwoodhill, Morere Hot Springs, and award-winning wineries, the need to use a vehicle is minor.
Pick up the Gisborne Historic Walk brochure at the Gisborne i-SITE, an easy 2 hour walk and fascinating account of New Zealand’s early history. Gisborne is a city rich in history and played a crucial role in the story of Aotearoa/New Zealand's origins. It’s where the Maori migratory waka Horouta and Takitimu first landed, and where Captain James Cook made his first New Zealand landfall in 1769.
End your historic walk at the Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery which is regarded as one of the finest provincial museums in New Zealand showcasing the local history and present day with innovative and creative exhibitions. The Jack C. Richards Decorative Arts Gallery is a special treat, while the fully restored bridge of the Star of Canada which foundered off Kaiti Beach in 1912 is a surprising adjunct to the museum. Wylie Cottage provides a glimpse into colonial times and the local Arts scene is well represented with a continual series of thought provoking exhibitions. Another excellent addition is the 'C' Company of the Maori Battalion Exhibition - a commemorative tribute to these brave men or "Nga tama toa" who served overseas in WWII.
Nestled in amongst the eating and dining precinct in the Inner Harbour is the Gisborne Wine Centre. It is the premier wine seller and tasting room in the city. Guided tastings are curated to highlight the best of Gisborne, and for the casual wine buff, self- guided wine trios are available for you to enjoy in the on-site restaurant and bar.
Be sure to get up to see the first sunrise in the world, easier at this time of the year, with the sun rising at the more civilised time of 6.45am. Let’s face it, it is Gisborne - meaning you can still indulge in some long beach walks. All in all, a wonderful getaway to discover, experience and explore Eastland's unique nooks and crannies.