New Zealand's easternmost city, GISBORNE, is the first to catch the sun each new day, and, thanks to the surrounding mountain ranges, its relatively isolated location has spared it from overdevelopment. Broad streets lined with squat weatherboard houses warmed by long hours of sunshine are interspersed with expansive parkland hugging the Pacific, the harbour and three rivers – the Taruheru, Turanganui and Waimata.
It was here in October 1769 that James Cook first set foot on the soil of Aotearoa, an event commemorated by a shoreside statue. He immediately ran into conflict with local Maori, killing several of them before sailing away empty-handed. He named the landing site Poverty Bay, since "it did not afford a single item we wanted, except a little firewood". Despite the fertility of the surrounding lands, the name stuck and looks set to prevail, against the wishes of some Maori, who would rename it Turanganui a Kiwa – honouring a Polynesian navigator.
Today, Gisborne is most associated with wine: thanks to a free-draining alluvial plain in the lee of the Raukumara Range, long hours of strong sun and warm summer nights, Poverty Bay's wineries have made Gisborne a viticultural workhorse, churning out vast quantities of Chardonnay, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Gewürtztraminer grapes to be blended into cheerful wines for everyday glugging. National giants Corbans and Montana account for over eighty percent of the regional production, but tours here are generally only available to groups by appointment; some of the smaller wineries do welcome visitors, though.