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Gisborne, New Zealand

For other uses of Gisborne, see Gisborne.
Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Māori)
Main urban area
Central and northeastern Gisborne viewed from Kaiti Hill
Central and northeastern Gisborne viewed from Kaiti Hill
Gisborne is located in New Zealand
Location in New Zealand
Country New Zealand
Region Gisborne Region
 • Mayor Meng Foon[1]
Population (June 2015 estimate)[2]
 • Total 35,700
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Area code(s) 06

Gisborne (Māori: Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa "Great standing place of Kiwa") is a city in northeastern New Zealand and the largest settlement in the Gisborne District (or Gisborne Region). It has a population of 35,700 (June 2015 estimate).[2] The district council has its headquarters in Whataupoko, in the central city.

The settlement was originally known as Turanga and renamed Gisborne in 1870 in honour of New Zealand Colonial Secretary William Gisborne.[3]


  • Geography 1
  • Climate 2
  • Economy 3
  • Education 4
  • Culture 5
    • Sport 5.1
    • Gardens 5.2
  • Transportation 6
    • Air 6.1
    • Roads 6.2
    • Rail 6.3
  • Suburbs 7
  • Notable residents 8
  • Sister cities 9
  • Sister ports 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


NASA satellite photo of Gisborne

The city of Gisborne is located at the north end of Poverty Bay. The white cliff headland of Young Nick's Head at the other end of the bay is visible from the city. The cliffs can be seen in the left hand side of the sat photo. The Māori name for the cliffs is Te Kurī-a-Pāoa,[4] meaning The Dog of Pāoa, as this was what it was originally said to look like.

This prominence was the first part of New Zealand sighted by the crew of Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour, and was named for the crew member who first saw it. A memorial to Cook stands on the foreshore, marking the point where he first stepped ashore in New Zealand on 8 October 1769.

On the right hand side of the sat photo at the other end of the bay, known as Poverty Bay, is Kaiti Hill. This hill overlooks the city and magnificent views can be obtained by driving or walking to the summit.

It is sometimes known as the City of Rivers as the centre of the city is the convergence of three different rivers, one of which is the shortest river in the country at 1200 m long.[5]

Gisborne boasts being the first city in the world to greet the sun each day. However, in 2011, Samoa decided to skip a day to be moved westward across the international dateline, to align with trade partners, and its capital Apia thus can now claim that title. Before that move, however, Gisborne's claim was technically only true for part of the year. Both Suva, Fiji, and Nukuʻalofa, Tonga, are closer to the International Date Line and therefore would seem more likely candidates for this title. Due to the Earth's tilt on its axis, however, Gisborne does overtake their claim as New Zealand summer days grow longer. In the longest days of summer, though, it again loses the title to the hillier suburbs of Dunedin in the South Island.

The city has the benefit of being very close to Waikanae and Midway beaches, both within easy walking distance of the city centre. Wainui Beach is 8 km from the city. It has consistent surf, and the local surf club has produced several world champions.


The region is sheltered by high country to the west and has a sunny climate with high sunshine hours. The region has a yearly average of 2,200 sunshine hours. The annual rainfall varies from about 1000mm near the coast to over 2500mm in higher inland country.[6] According to the NIWA dataset for 1981-2010 normals, Gisborne narrowly edged several other cities to have the warmest summer maxima of official stations.[7] Winters are slightly cooler than more northerly areas, rendering that over the course of the calendar year, Gisborne is not the warmest station of the country.[8] In spite of this yearly mean temperatures are still some way above average for New Zealand as a whole. Even summertime mean temperatures are lower than northerly areas in spite of the highs due to the cooler nights.

Climate data for Gisborne
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 19.2
Average low °C (°F) 13.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 54
Mean monthly sunshine hours 249.9 200.7 190.7 164.9 145.6 128.6 124.1 163.3 180.7 219.4 217.5 232.4 2,217.7
Source: NIWA Climate Data[9]


The harbour was host to many ships in the past and had developed as a river port to provide a more secure location for shipping compared with the open roadstead of Poverty Bay which can be exposed to southerly swells. A meat works was sited beside the harbour and meat and wool were shipped from here. Now the harbour is the home of many smaller fishing boats as well as ships loading logs for export.

The city maintains a rural charm and is a popular holiday spot. Local industries include agriculture, horticulture, farming and forestry. Wine production is also valuable to the local economy.


Gisborne City has four main high (secondary) schools: Gisborne Boys' High, Gisborne Girls' High, Lytton High and Campion College. Campion College is a Catholic co-educational school.


Two major annual events are the Dawn Raid Beach Day Out, which is an outdoor concert featuring many of the Dawn Raid hip-hop stars held in January, and Rhythm & Vines, a 3-day New Year's music festival, featuring well-known New Zealand and international bands performing in the vineyard setting of Waiohika Estate.

In 2012 and 2013, Gisborne made skinny dipping world record attempts.[10]



Gisborne is home to the Gisborne Botanical Gardens. In the surroundings are two arboreta:



Gisborne Airport serves as the domestic airport for the Gisborne Region. Regular flights between Auckland and Wellington are serviced by Air New Zealand under the Link brand, while the smaller airline Sunair provides services to other New Zealand centres such as Hamilton, Napier, Rotorua and Tauranga, and Air Napier provides services to Napier and Wairoa.


State Highway connects Gisborne to Tauranga via the Opotiki and Whakatane to the northwest, and to Napier and the Hawke's Bay via Wairoa to the south. SH2 enters Gisborne from the northwest from Te Karaka, a settlement approximately 31 km northwest of Gisborne. SH2 passes through Makaraka, a suburb on the outer fringes of Gisborne. It then crosses the Waipaoa River and makes its way south through Manutuke and Wharerata before it enters the Hawke's Bay Region towards Nuhaka, Wairoa, and eventually on to Napier.

State Highway (part of the Pacific Coast Highway network) begins at a junction west of Gisborne with SH2 just before SH2 crosses the Waipaoa River on its way south to Manutuke. SH35 borders Gisborne Airport to the south and enters Gisborne city on the southwestern fringes. It makes its way through the city out to the east, and continues up the coast connecting Gisborne to the East Cape.


Gisborne is the northern terminus of the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line railway, which opened in 1942 and mothballed (track kept in place but all services cancelled) in 2012. The permanent way has since suffered storm damage including bridge collapses and the line is believed unlikely to re-open for economic reasons. Prior to this, an isolated section of line operated from Gisborne to Moutohora - intended to be part of a line to Auckland via Rotorua, and later part of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway line. This connection was never completed and the Moutohora Branch line closed in 1959.

Rail passenger services were provided between Gisborne and Wellington until 1988, when the Endeavour express was cancelled north of Napier. Today, only the Gisborne City Vintage Railway operates limited heritage train rides out of Gisborne.


Coastal suburbs of Gisborne viewed from Kaiti Hill

Notable residents

Sister cities

Gisborne had three sister cities in the Sister Cities International Program, two are in the United Kingdom (one in Wales and Scotland), the third being Palm Desert, California in the US.

Sister ports


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b For urban areas,
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration" - 20 May 2008 - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  5. ^
  6. ^ Gisborne Weather at
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ McLintock, A.H. (ed.) (1959) A descriptive atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: NZ Government Printer. Map 31.
  12. ^

External links

  • Gisborne District Council
  • Tourism Eastland
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