The East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand includes the Gisborne District or Gisborne Region (Maori: Te Tai Rawhiti) and Hawkes Bay Region. The former is named after its largest settlement, the city of Gisborne and the Hawke's Bay Region (Maori: Heretaunga) is recognised on the world stage for its award-winning wines.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council sits in both the cities of Napier and Hastings. It derives from Hawke Bay, named by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke, who decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759. The Gisborne Region is also known as the East Coast region. However, it is often divided into the East Coast proper, also known as East Cape, north of the city, and Poverty Bay, which includes and surrounds the city. Its Maori name, Te Tai Rawhiti, means the Coast of the Sunrise, reflecting that it is the first part of the New Zealand mainland to see the sunrise.

The district is located in the northeastern corner of the North Island. It ranges from the Wharerata Hills in the south, which divides it from the Wairoa district in the Hawke's Bay region to Lottin Point in the north. The western boundary runs along the Raukumara Range, which separates it from the Opotiki district. In the southwest, its boundary runs along the west edge of Te Urewera National Park.

Situated on the east coast of the North Island, the Hawke's Bay region includes the hilly coastal land around the northern and central bay, the floodplains of the Wairoa River in the north, the vast fertile Heretaunga Plains around Hastings in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges.

Five major rivers flow down into the coast of Hawke's Bay. From north to south, they are the Wairoa River, Mohaka River, Tutaekuri River, Ngaruroro River and Tukituki River, respectively. Lake Waikaremoana is situated in northern Hawke's Bay, roughly 35 km from the coast. It is the largest lake in Hawke's Bay, 4th most prominent in North Island and 16th in New Zealand.

The region consists of Wairoa District, Hastings District, Napier City, and its southernmost district, Central Hawke's Bay District, as well as Taharua in Taupo District and Ngamatea in Rangitikei District. It does not include Southern Hawke's Bay, whose constituent districts, the Dannevirke and Woodville counties, came under the Tararua District Council and the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (also known as Horizons Regional Council) in the 1989 local government reforms.

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