Tairāwhiti Gisborne’s spectacular scenery and outdoor attractions are some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best kept secrets.
This beautiful but remote region, bounded by mountain ranges to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, is a trove of hidden gems. Here, you’ll find untouched sandy beaches, pumping surf spots, and remote backcountry forests.
Explore the Tūpapa Heritage Trail(opens in new window) and discover the indigenous stories behind local landmarks. Begin by downloading the free app and heading to Gisborne’s waterfront. From here, you’ll follow the trail along the Tūranganui River and up to the Tītīrangi summit. Along the way, you’ll cover 800 years of local Māori history, beginning with the ocean voyages of from Polynesia and ending with the first encounters between Māori and Captain James Cook in 1769.
The Motu Trails(opens in new window) are among Aotearoa New Zealand’s top mountain biking tracks. They can be completed as a single 121km loop or individually, as four trails, catering for all levels of ability. The Dunes Trail a pleasant three-hour meander along the Pacific coast, featuring spectacular views of Whakaari/White Island and Raukūmara Ranges. The next level up are the Motu Road Trail and the Rere Falls Trail, which are for intermediate riders and take 1-3 days to complete. The Motu Road Trail leads into the region’s remote backcountry, while the Rere Falls Trails sticks closer to the coast, showcasing some of the region’s top attractions, such as the Rere Falls and Gisborne vineyards. The Pakihi Track is for advance riders only and provides 20km of gritty off-road riding through the Urutawa Forest.
Gisborne Rail Bike Adventure
On a Gisborne Rail Bike Adventure(opens in new window), you’ll cycle along an abandoned coastal railway, far from the beaten track, across a beautiful corner of Aotearoa New Zealand. The tandem railbikes are attached to the railway line. All you need is a buddy and legs to pedal.
Nature and wildlife
Stingrays have an unfair reputation. Meet Pancake and Waffle and you’ll see why. On a Dive Tatapouri(opens in new window) tour you’ll walk out on a shallow reef to where Pancake and Waffle, along with other wild stingrays and kingfish, will be waiting to greet you.
Eastwoodhill Arboretum(opens in new window) is home to more than 25,000 species of tree, shrub, and climber from around the globe. Here, you’ll find plants chosen for their beauty, such an odd-looking Manglietia Hookeri, alongside species selected for their rarity, such as an endangered American Elm.
No visit to Gisborne is complete without a ride on the slide. Rere Rockslide(opens in new window) is a 60-metre natural waterslide and one of the region’s most popular attractions. Choose your mode of transport based on how fast you want to go: bodyboards go fast, tyre tubes go slower. Note, the landing pool is 4 metres deep, so if you can’t swim, don’t go in.
Cooks Cove (Ōpoutama)
Cooks Cove Walkway(opens in new window) is a short walk through private farmland and native forests. Highlights include secluded coves that are perfect for swimming and the Hole in the Wall, an opening in a cliff face overlooking Cooks Cove. Note, the walkway will be closed for the lambing from 1 August until Labour Day (fourth Monday of October).
Tairāwhiti Gisborne attracts surfers from around the world, who come here for the variety of breaks, consistent swells, and uncrowded waters. There’s 270 kilometres of coastline to explore, including the famous Wainui(opens in new window) and Makorori beaches – favourites of local surf legend Maz Quinn.