Gisborne is fun, it is family friendly with numerous holiday options that are not expensive. You can explore New Zealand’s cultural identity with Maori tours who are passionate about their home. There are beaches for surfing or swimming and the iconic Rere rockslide. Foodies are catered for with wineries and delis as well the art scene is a showcase of New Zealand talent. Gisborne has plenty to see and do for visitors.
Gisborne beguiles the senses with the strong cultural connections to Maori culture, local passionate feelings about their place and the pride in showing visitors what makes Gisborne tick. The pride is infectious with visitors becoming guests and friends. For New Zealanders it is an echo of a time when New Zealand was a place of small towns and communities. For overseas visitors it is a harking back to old fashioned hospitality and having a good time in a friend’s place.
Most of all Gisborne is fun.
Join the locals and watch the sunrise from Maunga Hikurangi. The highest non-volcanic peak is sacred. Expert Ngati Porou guides will introduce you to the significance of the dawn and the importance of the first light stroking the mountain awake. The nine large wakairo (carvings) are totemic representations of Maui and Ngati Porou descendants.
Gisborne Wine Centre is a great place to check out the wines on offer, the latest vineyards worth a visit. As well as indulgent platters there is a top class restaurant, Crawford Road Kitchen as part of the Centre. Forward bookings are essential for this boutique eatery. Gisborne really does know how to welcome visitors to indulge the senses with a dedicated Wine Centre situated in the glorious location of the Gisborne harbour. The price of a glass is very reasonable and there is always the extra treat of a guided tasting of Gisborne Wine Regions Highlights. A Gisborne chardonnay is well known for its fruity sensation as it hits the back of the palate.
Adventure sport down a natural rock waterslide at the Rere rockslide. Only 30 minutes inland from Tairāwhiti Gisborne, you will find a not so hidden gem, a natural water slide. The rock slide is 60 metres long with a water weathered smooth rock surface. Grab a body board, a spare tyre inner, your friends T shirt and have fun. Scream and laugh as you slide into the pool below. And it is free.
Kayaking with a difference, traditional polynesian canoes or waka experience is part of the Gisborne visitor offering. An authentic Māori culture and sailing experiences aboard a Māori waka hourua (two-hulled canoe) named Tairāwhiti. Step aboard to learn about the seafaring and navigation techniques Māori voyagers used to cross the Pacific and discover New Zealand or join the crew for a hands-on sailing experience. You will get some idea of the sheer guts and skill it takes to sail the Pacific in this ocean going waka.
What’s New Zealand beach without local surfers? Check out the East Cape surf beaches which are off the beaten track. Check out the waves at Makorori or Wainui Beach. If surfing is not your thing, Mahia estuary with its saltwater lagoons is a short day trip family friendly alternative. People watching is a great way to interact with the locals, enjoy Gisborne’s beach culture. And it is free.
Need a selfie with a great view, nothing like a hike up Hike Up To The Kaiti Hill Lookout. Starting on the Gisborne waterfront at Waikanae Creek, the Tupapa Heritage trail leads you past 10 markers narrating the story of the polynesian settlers. As you follow their story and how the culture evolved into the Maori identity the explanatory signs are markets along the route encouraging you to climb Kaiti Hill. The trail finishes with a 3D table map up Kaiti Hill, also known as Titirangi. It shows the migration routes of the waka crossing the Pacific to from Polynesia to Aotearoa, NZ. And it is free.
Gisborne is well known for its boutique wineries however you might not have heard of Taste Cider At The Harvest Cidery. Scrumpy cider is based in Gisborne with a taproom open for tastings. The fruit scented harvest cider range is enough to tempt the most jaded palate. And viewing cider operations is definitely worth a visit upstairs to their viewing platform.
A lighthouse is another great selfie moment and its part of the Wainui beach and headlands walks. The Gisborne Wainui beach cycle and walk trail is less than 4 km to the lighthouse for approximately 40 minutes. And it is free.
Eastwood Arboretum has an excellent children’s playground, over 130 native and exotic trees for garden enthusiasts to linger among, trails, walking tracks from easy flat walks to a vigorous climb to Mount Arataitai for panoramic views of the Arboretum and beyond. And if you are hungry, a cafe on site to keep up your energy levels. There is an entry fee to the Arboretum as it is a charitable trust with no government funding.
Takitimu was built in 1921 for the Gisborne Harbour Board as both a tug & pilot vessel. She measures 45’ in length, with a 11’ beam & a draft of 5’. Originally powered by a 40hp Twigg petrol engine, this was replaced after 1 year by a 70hp Twigg. In 1945 this was replaced by a 100hp Vivian & then in 1970 with a Gardner 6LX, which continues to power her today. The vessel is now managed by a charitable trust (The Gisborne MV Takitimu Charitable Trust). Check them out, maybe even make a donation. Click here for booking details or further information MV Takitimu – Home. Go for a summer boat trip in the harbour on a heritage pilot ship and listen to the stories the boat has to tell.
Gisborne is worth the journey.