Gisborne offers some of New Zealand’s best coastal scenery and beaches in uncrowded, often remote settings. The interior is rugged and mountainous bush country which is largely inaccessible except for around beautiful Lake Waikaremoana to the south west. Freedom camping up and down the coast is popular in summer, as are exploring the vineyards, fishing, surfing and generally enjoying the safe and sandy beaches. Māori culture is strong here with around 45% of the population identifying themselves as Māori. Although it is the site of Captain James Cook’s first landfall in New Zealand in 1769, Gisborne district wasn’t settled by Europeans until relatively late. Settlement began in the mid 1850s with the arrival of whalers and missionaries.