Introducing The East Coast
New Zealand is known for its juxtaposition of wildly divergent landscapes but in this region it’s the sociological contours that are most pronounced. From the remote villages of East Cape to Havelock North’s prosperous, wine-stained streets, the East Coast condenses a wide range of authentic Kiwi experiences that anyone with a passion for culture will find fascinating.
If you’re the intrepid sort, you’ll quickly lose the tourist hordes along the Pacific Coast Hwy, on the back roads and obscure beaches of Central Hawkes Bay, or in the mystical wilderness of Te Urewera National Park. When the feral urge wanes, a decent coffee and a slap-up meal is never far away in the urbane confines of Gisborne and Napier.
Authentic Maori culture is never more visible than on the East Coast. It’s probably the only place in the country where exquisitely carved marae outnumber McDonalds, KFC and Starbucks outlets combined. The locals may not be wearing flax skirts and swinging poi (flax balls on strings) like they do for the tourists in Rotorua, but you can be assured that Maori language and tikanga (practices) are alive and well.
While you are guaranteed a cold beer in any of the local pubs, wine is king here. Gisborne and Hawkes Bay strain under the weight of tonnes of grapes. If the weather conspires to drive you off the beaches, lazy days can be cheerfully spent mooching around vineyards, lingering in cafés or exploring the region’s museums and architecture.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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