Introduction

New Zealand is known for its mix of wildly divergent landscapes, but on the East Coast it’s the sociological contours that are most pronounced. There's a full spectrum of NZ life here, from the earthy settlements on the East Cape to Havelock North’s moneyed, wine-soaked streets.

Māori culture is never more visible than it is on the East Coast. Exquisitely carved marae (meeting house) complexes dot the landscape, and te reo and tikanga (the language and customs) are alive and well.

Intrepid types will have no trouble losing the tourist crowds – along the Pacific Coast Hwy, through rural back roads, on remote beaches or in the mystical wilds of Te Urewera. And when the call of the wild gives way to caffeine withdrawal, you can get a quick fix in Gisborne or Napier. You’ll also find plenty of wine here: the Hawke's Bay region is striped with vine rows.