Blessed by nature: Discover the best of Gisborne food and drink

Blessed by nature: Discover the best of Gisborne food and drink
Its sunny climate makes Gisborne a world-class location for wine. Yet its other blessings include iconic Kiwi food and places to explore aplenty.

As the first place in the world to see the sunrise each day, visitors will see that the sun seems to shine a little brighter in Tairāwhiti Gisborne.

The sunny climate is part of the reason Gisborne boasts an ideal environment for producing fantastic wine.

It’s the third-largest winemaking region in New Zealand and mainly known for its white wines, with more than half of the vines in Gisborne being chardonnay.

There’s plenty of cuisine to try while you sip your wines, so check out the local haunts for some tasty food.

James Millton

Wonderful wineries


Gisborne is the home of New Zealand’s first organic and biodynamic wine estate: Millton Vineyards and Winery. Any trip to Gisborne must include a visit to the Millton cellar door to taste the award-winning, top-quality wines. In the vineyards, sprays and tonics from plants, animals and minerals are used, applied at specific times of the lunar month. In the winery, time is the preferred method to fine the wines rather than technology, with Millton choosing not to modify the wines with cultured yeast, chaptalisation or acidification.

Millton was the country’s first producer to gain Bio-Gro certification for organic wine production. The vineyards and winery were established by James and Annie Millton in 1984. Annie’s father, John Clark, developed vineyards on his estate in Manutuke in the late ’60s. After gaining experience in famous European wine regions, James and Annie returned to Gisborne where they replanted major parts of the family grape-growing business before establishing the Millton Vineyard. “As young people, my wife Annie and I had a great interest in growing things in the garden and on the vineyard,” says James. “And when we then were given the opportunity to take responsibility of the vineyard, we looked very closely at what it was that our intuition was telling us. And that was to stop using any of the chemicals that we used in the ’60s and ’70s.”


Wrights produces hand-crafted boutique wines in an environmentally friendly way.


At the region’s oldest boutique winery, the vineyards are 100 per cent naturally dry farmed, with grapes grown using rainfall.


The quaint cellar door makes for a memorable outing: a great place to share delicious wines and gourmet platters.

Food and drink tourism


To sample some of the region’s best wines, see the spectacular views and fit in some exercise along the way, take Cycle Gisborne’s Vineyard Tour. During the tour you’ll get to enjoy three wine tastings and a vineyard lunch. You can embark by yourself or request a guide.


Feeling overwhelmed by the choice of wineries in Gisborne? Get to know the local drops first with a visit to Gisborne Wine Centre, which works with local wineries to stock the best wines at cellar door prices; plus you can enjoy a guided tasting of the best Gisborne wines. The onsite restaurant, Crawford Road Kitchen, is also worth a visit for its beautiful food celebrating local produce. Check out their Gisborne Pantry, too, which stocks local food products direct from their restaurant suppliers. Here you can buy honey, fish, cheese, fresh produce and more from artisan producers across the region.


There’s not just local wine to enjoy in Tairāwhiti – the city is also where you’ll find New Zealand’s oldest independent brewery, Sunshine Brewing. You can witness the brewing process while sampling its beers in the Sunshine Taproom. With pizzas, snacks and beer tasting boards also on offer, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

Iconic local dishes

Fry bread from Hāti Nāti Café

Get yourself to this Ruatoria café for its Fry Bread Friday specials, where you can get your fill of this tasty traditional Māori treat.

Pāua pie from Café 35

Foodies travel from far and wide to savour the flaky pastry and creamy abalone filling of this legendary pāua pie.

Mānuka muffins from East Cape Manuka Café

You must try the honey creations, like the locally grown Mānuka tea, tasty Mānuka muffins and Mānuka ice cream.



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