Gisborne

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Flights to Tairāwhiti Gisborne

Taste New Zealand’s best chardonnay, play on a natural rockslide and enjoy perfect waves fresh from the Pacific Ocean.

When the sun rises for a new day, Tairāwhiti Gisborne is the first city in the world to see it. You can walk up Kaiti Hill, also known as Titirangi, and watch the dawn unfold across the Pacific Ocean. It’s a Gisborne moment that every Kiwi has to experience.

As well as being first to see the sun, Gisborne shines in the wine and food stakes. It’s also a prime location for surfing, kitesurfing, diving and off-shore fishing. There’s a lot to love in this unique corner of Aotearoa.

About our flights to Gisborne

Air New Zealand offers non-stop domestic flights to Gisborne airport from Auckland and Wellington. With all Gisborne airfares you can choose seat, seat+bag, flexitime or flexidate fare types. Flights from Auckland to Gisborne take 65 minutes, and Wellington to Gisborne flights take 75 minutes.

Where to go and what to see in Tairāwhiti Gisborne

A holiday in Gisborne gives you a bit of everything you love. Within one compact region you get beautiful beaches, alfresco winery restaurants, forest hikes, interesting historic sites and scenery-saturated road trips. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a whole week, the friendliness of the locals makes it easy to connect with Tairāwhiti culture.

The beautiful Makorori sunrise near Gisborne
The beautiful Makorori sunrise near Gisborne

Fresh air adventures

Surfers discovered Gisborne in the 1960s and they’ve been singing its praises ever since. If you’ve caught waves before, Wainui Beach is the place to hone your skills. Otherwise, sign up for surf school and discover whether you’re goofy or natural.

While Gisborne is heavy on the coastal beauty, it’s equally blessed with an impressive hinterland where wilderness lakes, mountain ranges, dense forests and tumbling rivers beckon adventurous travellers. There are numerous trails to discover, but one of the most stunning areas for hiking is Te Urewera, the largest untouched native forest in New Zealand. The Lake Waikaremoana Track in this park is one of New Zealand’s nine great walks.

For a big walk that’s closer to the city, try Te Kuri Walkway. It’s a four-hour round trip through a range of beautiful landscapes. The highlight is a lookout point 290 metres above sea level.

Biking is another way to embrace Gisborne sightseeing. The Motu Trails – part of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project – encompass a whole range of rides for off-roaders. The closest trail segment to the city is Rere Falls Trail, a refreshing way to discover Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Rere Falls and other Gisborne attractions. By combining the Rere Falls and Motu Road trails, you can create an epic coast-to-coast ride.

Tatapouri Bay’s underwater world is another Gisborne treasure, especially if you have dive experience or like to snorkel. The snorkelling with stingrays adventure, available over summer, is a chance to observe wild-but-friendly stingrays as they glide along the sandy floor of the bay.

Gazing across the sea and the Tolaga Bay Wharf
Gazing across the sea and the Tolaga Bay Wharf

Eat, drink and enjoy

Time, that rare commodity, seems freely available around Gisborne and Tairāwhiti. Nobody wants to rush the business of making fine wine and artisan foods, so you can expect some delectable experiences to come your way.

A tour of cellar doors leads to favourites like Millton Vineyards, loved for riesling and chenin blanc; Matawhero Wines, where you can taste some of the region’s famous chardonnays; and Bridge Estate, which has a cellar door in a 120-year-old stable. Around lunchtime you’ll want to be at Bushmere Estate, which has an acclaimed restaurant – The Vines.

You can also tour the region’s wines without leaving the city. At the Gisborne Wine Centre you can taste a range of gorgeous wines accompanied by an antipasto platter.

On Saturday mornings, the Gisborne Farmers’ Market will tempt you with an outstanding array of fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan cheeses, bread and other delectable goodies. There’s always live music and great coffee at this market.

City food adventures for the daytime include Verve Café & Bar, PBC Café, Zest Café, and Frank & Albies. In the evening check out USSCo or The Marina Restaurant. These are just a few of the many café and restaurant choices you’ll find within walking distance of the CBD.

Gazing across the sea and the Tolaga Bay Wharf
Gazing across the sea and the Tolaga Bay Wharf
Lights shining on cascading Rere Falls
Lights shining on cascading Rere Falls

Exploring local history

Māori oral history tells us that Tairāwhiti is where the first Polynesian migration voyages landed. We also know that Kaiti Beach is where Captain Cook first made landfall and encountered New Zealand’s Māori people. The moment is commemorated at the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve on Kaiti Beach Road.

For a concentrated approach to the region’s history, visit the Tairāwhiti Museum to see exhibitions about Māori and colonial culture, as well as regularly changing contemporary exhibits. There’s a separate building for C Company of the Māori battalion, where you’ll find a profoundly moving collection of artefacts and stories.

Take your thirst for history and scenery on the road with a 334km road trip around East Cape. Highlights include the 660-metre Tolaga Bay Wharf, East Cape Lighthouse and the intricately decorated Māori church in Tikitiki. This journey includes many Māori meeting houses (whare) with ornately carved gateways and architecture.

Discovering a living culture

The highest point in Tairāwhiti is Mount Hikurangi, a mountain that’s sacred to the local Ngāti Porou people. Climbing expeditions to the mountain’s summit can be organised through Ngāti Porou. The ultimate way to experience this mountain is on a guided trip to see the sunrise with Maunga Hikurangi, a tour operator based in Ruatoria.

Wainui Beach is one of the region's most popular surf hotspots
Wainui Beach is one of the region’s most popular surf hotspots

Every year in October, the Gisborne Wine & Food Weekend showcases the best of local food and wine at a selection of city, rural and beach venues. Another highlight of the Tairāwhiti year is Rhythm & Vines, a three-day musical festival featuring local and international acts. Held on December 29-31 each year, it’s the first festival in the world to welcome in the first sunrise of the new year. Going to Rhythm & Vines is a rite of passage for many young Kiwis.

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