Go Travel New Zealand - - 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.

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