Gisborne is where the first Polynesian migration canoes landed, where Captain Cook made his first landfall and where Maori and European first encountered each other.
Gisborne History Overview
Gisborne has a rich history and some fascinating tales to tell.
Maori culture is evident in every settlement you see. There are carved meeting houses, beautifully painted Maori churches, children riding horses bareback on the beach and conversations in Te Reo.
Tairawhiti Museum and Arts Centre houses a fine collection of European and Maori artifacts and an extensive photographic collection while East Coast Museum of Technology has an impressive restored machinery collection.
Heritage Trails in the district highlight places of historical significance.
Captain Cook's Landing Site and Young Nick's Head
Imagine the past at the historic site where, on 9 October 1769, Captain Cook first landed in New Zealand. Statues of Captain Cook and Young Nick (the first crewman to sight New Zealand) are situated at the mouth of the Turanganui River near Waikanae Beach.
The striking headland protecting the southern opening of Poverty Bay bears the name Young Nick's Head, after Cook's far-sighted cabin boy, Nicholas Young.
Visit Titirangi Domain, Kaiti Hill for views over the Poverty Bay area and the picturesque white cliffs of Young Nick's Head. Drive up from Ranfurly Street to park at a variety of lookouts, or walk the walkways (entrance along Kaiti Beach Road) to enjoy the native trees and picnic areas.
On the trail of Captain Cook - Cook's Cove and Tolaga Bay Wharf
Walk five kilometres over farmland and through bush to Cook's Cove, where Captain Cook halted to repair the Endeavour and take on fresh supplies. Allow at least two and half hours to make the return trip—take a picnic. The walk is closed for the lambing season—1 August to 30 September.
A little north is the Tolaga Bay Wharf. At 660 metres in length, it's the longest pier in New Zealand. The wharf was built between 1926 and 1929, to enable ships to unload in all tides. An excellent half hour stroll; take your fishing gear and your camera.
You're in the middle of Gisborne City looking for something to do, something that gives the feel of the place, and lets you in to some of the district's past. Why not enjoy a leisurely historic walk through the city taking in rivers, harbour and sea?
The Tairawhiti Heritage Trail. It leads you through lands now within the Gisborne District. The Trail winds through the ancestral lands of the Maori who arrived here over a thousand years ago.
Gisborne is a popular tourist destination and offers a wide range of accommodation options:
- Gisborne Apartments
- Gisborne Motels
- Gisborne Hotels
- Gisborne Bed and Breakfasts
- Gisborne Campsites and Holiday Parks
View more Gisborne Accommodation options.
Useful Gisborne Links
To help plan your Gisborne holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Gisborne Accommodation
- Gisborne Tours
- Gisborne Attractions and Activities
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- Gisborne Visitor Information
Gisborne Region Information
Key information and facts about the Gisborne region.
Major activities and attractions in the Gisborne region.