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Gisborne and the East Cape epitomize all that's special about New Zealand -- stunning unspoiled scenery, rich culture and history, white-sand beaches, fabulous wines, and friendly, hospitable people. Gisborne, the most isolated city in the country, lies just south of the sparsely populated East Cape in Poverty Bay and is separated by mountain ranges from both Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.

Nearby Mount Hikurangi, the tallest nonvolcanic mountain on the North Island at 1,839m (6,032 ft.), is the first point on mainland New Zealand the sun touches each day, and Gisborne the first city in the world to see the light.

It is the place where both Maori and European voyagers first set foot on land. The waka (canoe) Horouta brought the first Maori settlers of the Great Migration from Hawaiiki over 1,000 years ago, and Captain James Cook stepped ashore at Kaiti Beach in Gisborne in 1769.

The Hawke's Bay region, 215km (134 miles) to the southwest, shares many of the same alluring natural features and has more than 30% of the country's finest vineyards. The adjacent cities of Napier and Hastings and the smaller community of Havelock North curve along the coast.

Both Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are blessed with mild climates, long hours of sunshine, and fertile soil -- the perfect combination for horticulture. The landscape is a patchwork of orchards, market gardens, pasture, and vineyards.