Gisborne, New Zealand

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For other uses of Gisborne, see Gisborne (disambiguation).
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
Coordinates: 38°39′45″S 178°1′4″E / 38.66250°S 178.01778°E / -38.66250; 178.01778Coordinates: 38°39′45″S 178°1′4″E / 38.66250°S 178.01778°E / -38.66250; 178.01778
Country New Zealand
Region Gisborne Region
 • Mayor Meng Foon[1]
Population (June 2013 estimate)[2]
 • Total 34,800
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/Region. It has a population of 34,800 (June 2013 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]


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.[citation needed]


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]

Climate data for Gisborne
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.9
Average low °C (°F) 13.6
Precipitation mm (inches) 54
Source: NIWA Climate Data[7]


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.[8]



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


State Highway 35 (part of the Pacific Coast Highway network) passes through Gisborne city while State Highway 2 passes through Makaraka, a suburb on the outer fringes of Gisborne city. Gladstone Road is the city's main road, which becomes Wainui Road and State Highway 35 to the east and north, and becomes Main Road Makaraka, and State Highway 2 to the west and south.

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 Gisborne.

Gisborne Airport provides a link in and out of the Gisborne region, with multiple Air New Zealand flights operating to and from Auckland and Wellington, seven days a week.


Coastal suburbs of Gisborne viewed from Kaiti Hill

Notable residents[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "Gisborne District Council » Councillor contact details". Gisborne District Council. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2013 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.  Also "Infoshare; Group: Population Estimates - DPE; Table: Estimated Resident Population for Urban Areas, at 30 June (1996+) (Annual-Jun)". Statistics New Zealand. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "East Coast places". Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration" - 20 May 2008 - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  5. ^ "Our District". Gisborne District Council. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  6. ^ Gisborne Weather at
  7. ^ "Climate Data". NIWA. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Hundreds get their gear off in Gisborne". Television New Zealand. 31 December 2013. 
  9. ^ McLintock, A.H. (ed.) (1959) A descriptive atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: NZ Government Printer. Map 31.
  10. ^ "Sister Cities". Gisborne District Council. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 

External links[edit]