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The first city in the world to see the sun, this easternmost tip of the country is famous for its beautiful coastline, densely forested mountain parks, surfing and fishing, and is also a centre for wine and agriculture.

Gisborne district lies on the northeastern corner of the central North Island. The only city is Gisborne (population 35,000). It’s about six or seven hours’ drive from Auckland, three hours from Napier to the south and a little longer from Tauranga and Rotorua in the west.

Although it is the site of Captain James Cook’s first landfall in New Zealand in 1769, Gisborne district wasn’t settled by Europeans until relatively late. Settlement began in the mid 1850s with the arrival of whalers and missionaries.

Māori culture is strong here - in fact, around 45% of the population identify themselves as Māori. 


Gisborne District offers some of New Zealand’s best coastal scenery and beaches in uncrowded, often remote settings. The interior is rugged and mountainous bush country which is largely inaccessible except for around beautiful Lake Waikaremoana to the south west. Freedom camping up and down the coast is popular in summer, as are exploring the vineyards, fishing, surfing and generally enjoying the safe and sandy beaches.

Gisborne city combines semi-rural charm with easy access to some of the coast’s best beaches. It offers a range of residential homes from city dwellings to lifestyle sections. It has good amenities including supermarkets and speciality stores and a small but growing selection of cafes and restaurants.

Major local events include the Dawn Raid Beach Day Out, an outdoor hip-hop concert held in January, and Rhythm & Vines, a three day New Year's music festival featuring well-known New Zealand and international bands performing in the vineyard setting of Waiohika Estate.

Economy & industry

With high, hot sunshine hours and fertile clay loam soils Gisborne district is an ideal environment for winemaking. The region is noted for its Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Malbec wines. Other local industries include agriculture, horticulture, farming, forestry and fishing.

Gisborne city functions as a service town for the district. Its port, a sheltered river port, hosts ships loading logs for export as well as smaller fishing vessels.


Gisborne is dry and sunny with warm summers and mild winters. Average maximums range from 23-25°C in summer to 14-15°C in winter.

The annual rainfall varies from about 1000mm near the coast to over 2500mm in higher inland country.

Migrant populations

Many migrants have already made Gisborne home. The table below shows where these migrants are moving from and demonstrates the diverse population you can expect to find in Gisborne.

It can be comforting to know there are others, similar to you, who have experienced the move.

Country of origin No. of migrants
UK and Ireland 1,407
Australia 543
Asia 540
Pacific Islands 513
Europe (excl. UK and Ireland) 300


Now that you know about what Gisborne has to offer, have a read about everyday life in the region, and services and support you can access.




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