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Places To Visit In New Zealand - East Coast

east coast blog by travel insurance


The East Coast (Eastland) of New Zealand’s North Island has great historical significance.  This is the place where the first Polynesian canoes landed, Captain Cook made his first landfall and Maori and European first encountered each other. Travelling along the coast road you will encounter beaches, vineyards, Maraes, picture-perfect scenery and very few people!

You can travel the East Coast road either from Napier or Whakatane, travelling along the Pacific Coast Highway through rural back roads and small settlements.   

Gisborne, the largest settlement on the East Coast, is the first city in the world to see the sun each day. Gisborne is a compact city with world class surf beaches, quality vineyards, groves of citrus, magnificent trees and wild rivers that meander towards empty beaches.  

Once you leave the town and head along the coast you will notice the relaxed, laid-back lifestyle many live in this part of the country. Here the world moves more slowly with horses and bare feet the common forms of transport.

Driving along the coast Maori culture is evident in every settlement you see. There are carved meeting houses, beautifully painted Maori churches, and conversations in Te Reo. Highlights are the 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 National Park, 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.

Besides enjoying the beautiful, often deserted, beaches you can enjoy other popular pastimes such as fishing, diving, cycling, mountain biking and golf. Also try the wine, as this area is known as the "chardonnay capital of New Zealand".

Accommodation along the East Coast ranges from upmarket lodges, boutique B&B’s or there are many idyllic spots for those in motorhomes or tents, with plenty of freedom camping options.



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