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Saturday 6 February 2016

A New Zealand gem that is often overlooked

Think of visiting vineyards in New Zealand and your mind probably turns to the sauvignon blanc paridise of Marlborough, the pinot noirs of Central Otago, or perhaps the syrahs of Hawke's Bay.

Tucked away on the East Coast, a few hours' drive north of Hawke's Bay is another alternative; the historic town of Gisborne, home to cellar doors including Matawhero, Millton and Vinoptima, among others.

Chardonnay thrives here; and there are is also an impressive range of alternative varieties. 

Gisborne is the birthplace of modern New Zealand, where Captain Cook first landed and encountered fierce Maori warriors. Around 50% of Gisborne's population claims Maori heritage.

Sitting between the Poverty Bay flats and the Pacific Ocean, Gisborne is a small, attractive city that's home to surf beaches, and is surrounded by countryside that is popular with walkers and adventurers. 

Gisborne is the the third-largest wine region in New Zealand and in addition to chardonnay look out for gewuratraminer, viognier, merlot and a range of other varieties.

Locals say that Gisborne is a "place where things happen first" and that it is "not isolated, but is exclusive".

Try albarino from Coopers Creek, ultra-expensive gewurztraminer from Vinoptima, marsanne from 747 Estate, a rose made from sangiovese and montepulciano from Bushmere Estate, or maybe a malbec from Hihi or a chenin blanc from Matawhero.

There is a good range to be tasted at the Gisborne Wine Centre, overlooking the working harbour. 

For superbly crafted biodynamic wines, and a couple of natural offerings, Millton is a lovely destination, or sample a late harvest semillon at Wrights. 

Among the best places to stay is the self-catering Portside (above), with its pool overlooking the inner harbour and a short stroll to the city precinct and restaurants and cafes. There is a choice of hotel rooms or one- or two-bedroom apartments, all well equipped for short or long stays with TVs, stereo systems, air-conditioning, kitchens, spacious bathrooms and free wifi. 

Downtown, the Quality Hotel Emerald and Conference Centre is sited around an attractive pool and overlooks the river. 

Gourmets will enjoy the Gisborne Farmers Market, held every Saturday morning opposite the local museum. 

For further details visit 

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