Tairāwhiti Gisborne surf, sea & sightseeing

Celebrated for its sun, surf and chardonnay, Tairāwhiti Gisborne is closely connected to New Zealand's early history and adventurous outdoor lifestyle.

With fertile plains bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and inland ranges on the other, this region has a magnificent selection of beaches, rivers, wineries and forest trails to discover.

At Rere Rockslide, Tairāwhiti Gisborne gets wet and wild. Armed with a body board, you can rocket 60 metres down a wet, slippery slope to splash in the pool below.

Rere Falls, Eastwoodhill and Rere Rockslide

At beautiful Rere Falls, Gisborne presents you with perfect scenery for a picnic. Although the falls are only five metres high, their 20 metre width makes them spectacular. The top overhangs the base slightly, creating a sheer white curtain of water that veils the moss-covered rock face behind and cascades into a swimmable pool.

On the way to the falls you'll pass Eastwoodhill Arboretum, a 130-hectare collection of exotic and native trees, shrubs and climbers. You'll want to spend a few hours here, because there's a choice of walking trails, a cafe and an exceptional playground for children.

Two kilometres after Rere Falls is Rere Rockslide, where Gisborne gets wet and wild. Armed with something like a body board, you can rocket 60 metres down a wet, slippery slope to splash in the pool below. Together, the arboretum and two Rere attractions make a perfect trio for a glorious nature-based day out.

Surf lessons and top surfing spots

Tairāwhiti Gisborne has a surfing culture that reaches back for generations. It's an excellent destination to discover the joy of surfing or pick up some tips for improving your skills. There are more than 30 recognised Gisborne surf spots within 100 kilometres of town and plenty of experienced instructors.

The local surf schools provide wetsuits and surfboards, and they'll pick the best spot for conditions on the day. On the main beach, Roberts Road and Waikanae Beach are known for more gentle surf that's ideal for learners and lessons. Just north of town, Wainui Beach and Makorori Beach are famous for their reef, beach and point breaks. You'll soon discover there's a Gisborne beach for every purpose.

A number of websites deliver a fresh Gisborne surf report every day, some supported by surf cam images.

Some of the best Tairāwhiti Gisborne walks

In the hills behind Gisborne you can enjoy a three-hour loop walk through a working farm. Known as the Te Kuri Farm Walkway, this family-friendly adventure comes with spectacular views of Gisborne and Poverty Bay. The track is closed during the lambing season from 1 August until the fourth weekend in October.

Starting on the Gisborne waterfront at Waikanae Creek, the Tupapa Heritage trail leads you past 10 markers that tell stories from the first people to setlle this beautiful area. Following the trail is like stepping back in time, because after reading the explanatory signs you'll each spot in a new light. The trail ends with a 3D table map up Kaiti Hill, also known as Titirangi. It shows the migration routes of the waka (canoes) that crossed the vast ocean from Polynesia to Aotearoa.

When you hike up Kaiti Hill, you're rewarded with phenomenal views across the city and out to sea. Named after the homeland of Gisborne's first Māori settlers, this hill was once the site of an ancient pā (fortress village). Look down from the summit towards the ocean and you'll see where Captain James Cook and his crew first stepped foot on New Zealand in 1769.

Today Kaiti Hill is part of a park that includes picnic areas, native forest walks, a statue of Captain Cook and a children's playground. It’s one of Gisborne's most visited attractions and an ideal way to get familiar with the layout of the town. If you're an early riser, head up the hill to catch the Gisborne sunrise - you'll be among the first in the world to see a new day dawn. This hill is also a top spot to see the sun dip behind the inland hills at the end of the day.

All sorts of cycle adventures

Whether you're looking for a leisurely ride along the main beach promenade, a tour of the local vineyards, serious off-road mountain bike action or a multi-day tour of the region, Gisborne has the trails, guides and bike hire services to get your wheels spinning. Guided tours around the city can have a historic or foodie focus. You can also cycle around Gisborne Botanical Gardens.

Vineyard cycle tours can start from the city or further out of town - an option that ensures more time around the wineries. Either way it's a great way to work up an appetite and avoid the problem of drinking and driving. Another idea is to arrange a one-way transfer for you and your cycles, so you'll start at an attraction in the hills, such as the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, then ride back downhill through the famous Gisborne wine country.

If getting off-road is more your thing, the Millmore Forest and Whataupoko Reserve mountain bike parks have trails ranging from family-friendly to challenging. Millmore is a private forest and you can purchase the required pass from AvantiPlus Maintrax or Bikeys in the city. Whataupoko is a public park and the seven kilometres of trails were developed by volunteers.

Keep exploring Tairāwhiti Gisborne