I don’t think it gets more quintessentially summer in New Zealand than in Tairāwhiti Gisborne.
The first city in the world to see the sunrise, Gisborne is an incredible and unique part of New Zealand. Far from the well-trodden tourist trail, people visit Gisborne because they want to explore the East Cape of the North Island. Iconic for its fantastic food and wine culture; for me, it’s a region of abundance. Hot and summery for a significant part of the year, I feel like I am on holiday as a kid whenever I visit. Cue eye roll from all the locals, I know.
“Gizzy,” as coined by kiwis, evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the New Zealand of our childhoods. Not that my childhood took place here, but let a girl dream. It’s not a place I’ve written much about before. In fact, I’ve only ever been twice in all my years in New Zealand.
Come summertime, the coastline blooms bright red when the pōhutukawa tree flowers; it’s also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree. Low-key and chill, Tairāwhiti Gisborne is a place that beckons you to kick off your sandals and stay a while.
Great food, great produce, great surfing, and great nature, it’s definitely one of the most underrated regions of New Zealand I’ve visited. Looking back to the arrival of great Polynesian voyagers, Captain James Cook’s landing, and the very first encounter between Māori and Europeans, Tairāwhiti Gisborne is home to so much history and culture. It’s a core part of the New Zealand story.
What drew me to Tairāwhiti Gisborne with Zeden was the story of the land, wildlife, and produce. It’s where Zeden Cider is made.
As I’ve grown and evolved over the years, I’ve shifted my work to have much more of a conservation and sustainability focus. Have you noticed?
I’ve been so lucky to call New Zealand home for a decade. I’m also so privileged to have a career that allows me to explore some of the most remote and wild places on earth. From suburban east coast America to the rural South Island, my journey has been far more than just miles accumulated on an airline credit card or bucket list destinations to tick off. I’m absolutely in love with nature and our incredible biodiversity.
It inspired me to want to protect and support these places and creatures. This is why I’ve shifted to try and work with woke brands that back nature and share the same values as me when it comes to our planet.
Zeden Cider was founded with those same ideals, just like me. And they donate some of their profit to Forest and Bird, New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organization fighting to protect wildlife and wild places. Imagine if every brand backed a cause like this.
I’m a big believer that when the land provides, we owe it to them to look after it. New Zealand is world-famous for its agriculture. We grow so much here, especially around Tairāwhiti Gisborne and the Hawkes Bay, including the apples and feijoas that make up the hard cider we love to guzzle down, especially in the summertime.
Also, ever heard of feijoas? They are a national treasure here in New Zealand. A small green, autumnal fruit, they taste like a guava, and a pineapple had a tiny baby. They’re delicious, and feijoa is a flavor you will find just about everywhere in New Zealand, including cider.
Last summer, I spent a few days exploring Tairāwhiti Gisborne with Zeden, learning how their small-batch award-winning cider is made. I learned about the land and people here, and spent heaps of time learning about some of the on-the-ground projects the local Forest and Bird chapter are looking after to protect and preserve this incredible corner of New Zealand.
Here’s a glimpse of Gisborne with Zeden through my eyes last summer. Enjoy!
Many thanks to Zeden for hosting me in Gisborne. Like always I’m keeping it real – like you could expect less from me.
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