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Gisborne and East Cape New Zealand
place in the world to see each new-dawned day"
Want to get far from the madding crowd? Then take a leisurely drive around East Cape. Scenery on a panoramic scale. Lost and lonely beaches. And, because the International Date line is not far out to sea, the first place in the world to see the sun each new-dawned day.
Take time to wander off the main road to beaches like Omaio, Te Kaha, Lottin Point, Hicks Bay, Anaura Bay, Tolaga Bay or Waihau Beach.
At Te Araroa, near the easternmost point on the road, is Te Waha o Rerekohu, a pohutukawa tree reputed to be, at over 600 years, the oldest and biggest specimen in the country.
Right on the easternmost point is East Cape Lighthouse - one of those classic light-house structures that look so good in happy snaps.
This has always been a stronghold of the Maori, and probably the place where European influence was least felt. As a result, Maori culture and traditions held fast during the bad years when the race was in decline, awaiting the dawn of a time when those values were to be renewed and revived. There is some fine Maori carving and decoration in churches and meeting houses at Te Kaha, Hicks Bay, and Ruatoria . . . but especially St Mary's Church at Tikitiki.
It mightn't have much going for it in the sight-seeing stakes, but Gisborne is a hands-down winner in one area - chardonnay. It is a major wine-growing area and specialises in lush, stylish chardonnays, a wine for which NZ is rapidly building a towering international reputation. A number of local wineries are open for tastings.
To my mind this is one of the most under-rated visitor attractions in the country. Few tourists venture into this vast forested wilderness, yet if you are looking for the primeval clean, green environment then this is it. Te Urewera National Park is one of the nation's truly hidden gems.
It is broadly the inland area between Rotorua and Gisborne, centred on Lake Waikaremoana. To traverse it, you drive the twisty-twirly road, gravel surfaced for a considerable stretch around Lake Waikaremoana, from Murupara to Wairoa on the coast.
A New Zealand Travel Guide is written by David Morris and published by
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12 March 2012