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Travel Guides NZ

Gisborne, East Coast to feature on TVNZ series.

The attractions of Tairawhiti and a holidaying local family feature in the new television series Travel Guides New Zealand, starting tonight on TVNZ 2.

Maraehako Bay-raised Rusha Paenga is an experienced world traveller but has quickly developed a taste for seeing what New Zealand has to offer, thanks to her participation in the series.

Ms Paenga, who lives in Napier, her similarly-aged aunt Cara Frires-Hei, of Maraehako Bay, and Ms Paenga's Gisborne-born nana Mere Nepia, of Napier, are among five family groups who travel around New Zealand reporting and evaluating their Kiwi experiences.

The Tairawhiti episode screens on March 4.

The rest of the series focuses on Northland, Southland, Fiordland and Auckland.

Ms Paenga has travelled solo through Europe and lived in Valencia and Berlin, but said she had little previous travel experience of her own country.

“I can't believe I haven't done it before.”

South Pacific Pictures managing director Andrew Szusterman, the executive producer of the series, said an international travel series was originally envisaged in February 2020, just before Covid-19 broke out.

It was then decided to film a New Zealand-based series, with South Pacific Pictures working with Tourism New Zealand and Television New Zealand.

Mr Szusterman was among a group who travelled around New Zealand looking for locations.

They wanted places that few New Zealanders had visited, although Mr Szusterman has been to Gisborne “a number of times”.

The Gisborne and East Coast locations include Rere Falls, surfing at Wainui, the interactive experience with stingrays at Dive Tatapouri and East Coast Horse Treks.

Mr Szusterman said he was impressed by horse meditation sessions at East Coast Horse Treks.

He enjoyed discovering unusual attractions for the series.

The Tairawhiti episode captured the spirit of the East Coast road trip and the beauty of the area, he said.

He was hopeful the series would encourage New Zealanders to get out and see their own country and support the tourism industry.

Ms Paenga said her favourite region outside of Tairawhiti was Northland.

“I hadn't been there before.

“It's absolutely beautiful and super amazing.

“It's subtropical like it is overseas but it's in our own country.”

Asked where else in Gisborne and on the East Coast she went, she replied: “you will have to watch the programme”.

Seeing the country: Locally-connected relatives (from left) Mere Nepia, Cara Frires-Hei and Rusha Paenga star on television tonight as they travel the length and breadth of the country on the new series Travel Guides NZ. Watch out for the Tairawhiti episode, which screens on TVNZ 2 on March 4. Picture supplied