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The East Coast, also known as Eastland or the Gisborne Region, lies around and south of the East Cape of the North Island of New Zealand. It lies between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay. This part of New Zealand was the first to be sighted and explored by Captain Cook and the crew of HMS Endeavour in 1769.


Map of East Coast (New Zealand)
  East Cape
the whole coastal region north of Gisborne


  • 1 Gisborne – a seaside city, the only large town in the region
  • 2 Matawai – a small inland settlement with outdoor and wilderness activities

Other destinations[edit]


Young Nick's Head, near Gisborne, was the first land sighted by Cook's expedition.

The area around Gisborne was named Poverty Bay by Captain Cook because his first landfall party was unsuccessful in obtaining provisions when the crew encountered hostile Maori inhabitants. Cook's landing is commemorated by a statue of him on the beach at Kaiti and replicas of his ship atop poles in Gisborne's main street.

The East Coast, particularly around East Cape, has a reputation for unemployment, poverty and isolation. Those who farm the land often have limited means and though they are able to live off the land and its produce, they are unable to derive a great income from it. Much of the area is multi-owner Maori Land, which makes it difficult to obtain development finance. However the cost of living on ancestral land is far less than in the cities, so many Maori remain here because it is inexpensive and offers a different lifestyle.

This is the area of New Zealand where the film Whale Rider was set and filmed. The film portrays the country lifestyle fairly well.

Get in[edit]

InterCity is a coach company that serves more than 600 destinations nationwide.

State Highway 2 passes through Poverty Bay on its way from the Bay of Plenty to the Hawkes Bay. However the Pacific Coast Highway goes right around East Cape.

Get around[edit]






There are plenty of motels in Gisborne, but few elsewhere on the East Coast.

Freedom camping is permitted in many beach areas along the coastal highway. You need to provide all your own facilities, and there are restrictions on what sort of camps can be set up and how long a stay can be, but it is free. See Gisborne District Council's webpage on freedom camping.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to East Coast is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!