A pretty bay on the other side of the city harbour with cafes, beaches, and some lovely walks. Climb up through bush and look across at Wellington city. It's accessible by bus or car. Makes a nice day out if you want to get away from the city.
While you're there, you can carry on to the next bay, Eastbourne, where you can walk to the lighthouse and watch the ferries on their way to and from the South Island.
If you're after some wilderness, visit Kaitoke Regional Park, which is about 40 minutes drive from the city centre. Beautiful scenery, native bush, walks, river to swim in. Divine!
Within the city itself is Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. There are plenty of walks, and it's a great opportunity to see some of the rarer birds (and other wildlife) of New Zealand in a natural setting (there are no cages. The birds come and go as they please).
Highly recommended is Rasa (Malaysian) on Cuba Street. Take your own bottle of wine (BYO) for a cheap, but delicious dinner. Also, the Matterhorn where you can listen to local bands while eating delicious food and drinking cocktails. It's a funky place (but popular!).
I stayed here this year, and had a wonderful four days meeting people, swimming in the sea, sunbathing on the beautiful sandy beach. The resort is run by Fijians and is laid back, the accommodation is good, and it's quiet (if you want peaceful).
The hostel is a beautiful old farmhouse, which has been lovingly renovated, with wooden floors and pleasant rooms. Our room had doors that opened out into the private garden. And this is a hostel!
If you have a car, it's a good place to stay for a few days, relax and chill, and use as a base to explore this part of Northland. Stefano is Italian-born and makes the most divine pizzas that everyone eats companionably around the big table in the kitchen. Can't wait to stay there again!
Gisborne is on the east coast of the North Island and is a place few tourists venture to. I love it because the coastline is so beautiful.
Ignore the main beach in town. Instead head north through the township and stop at Wainui beach or go over the hill to Makarori (where the surfers go).
Both beaches are beautiful and are sandfly-free (really!). There are some fantastic restaurants in Gisborne, and one of the best bookshops in NZ (Muirs). The whole East Cape is beautiful, and worth a visit if you have the time.
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