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Gisborne Itineraries

Gisborne in 2 Days

New Zealand's first city to see the dawn has surf beaches, fascinating cultural heritage, vineyards and great food

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Gisborne is a fishing port and hub for the local farming community on the East Coast of New Zealand‘s North Island. It’s  high on the radar for wine and vineyards and a beautiful coastline with excellent beaches and surfing. Maori culture is strong and this is the first city in the world to see the sun rise/dawn which is a great claim to fame, especially at New Year. Locals and visitors enjoy the views every day on Wainui and other nearby beaches and lookouts.

Part of its appeal is that Gisborne remains a remote destination, even to New Zealanders. Tracks and trails aside, there are just three main ways to travel in and out by road, via the fantastically wild and rugged East Cape, through the other-wordly Waioeka Gorge with truly spectacular bush and river views, or from the south from the Art Deco city of Napier via Wairoa. There’s also a small domestic airport so another option is fly in and hire a car. It’s a 3.5 hour drive from Rotorua and an hour’s flight from Auckland.

Get Started with these Gisborne Itineraries

Gisborne in 2 Days … A far-flung East Cape gateway harbouring special secrets

Gisborne: East Coast Destination

Gisborne makes a great stopover on the East Cape or coastal drive and it’s worth spending time to discover what makes this far-flung place tick. So what to expect? A country city with an incredibly wide main street, small hotels, apartments, motels, shops to browse and some great cafes, bars and restaurants. Beautiful Wainui Beach is a sought-after area for beachfront homes with many holiday rentals available.  Summer holidays (Christmas/Jan/Feb) are usually booked out with families coming to stay for weeks at a time. Motels, B&Bs and luxurious hideaways are also on the accommodation menu.

There are some special spots close by – it’s no coincidence that there are two ‘firsts’ in the same location; Titirangi Hill (aka Kaiti Hill) is said to the place where the first Maori people arrived in this eastern area. Down below, Kaiti Beach is the spot where Captain Cook first landed in New Zealand in 1769 and it’s a place of pilgrimage for the many who follow this extraordinary navigator’s incredible (if controversial!) voyages around the world.

As a wine region, Gisborne has much to offer; dubbed the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand, top NZ winemakers know it has the perfect climate and soil for that and varietals including, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Malbec and Merlot. Wine tours are the perfect way to tour the region and sample the local drops.

Some 35km from Gisborne, Eastwoodhill is New Zealand’s  National Arboretum established by William Douglas Cook who created the Southern Hemipshere’s largest collection of temperate climate trees from the Northern Hemisphere, now with some 4000 trees, shrubs and climbers.

Further up the coast is Tolaga Bay with an impressively long jetty, coastal walks and Tolaga Bay Cashmere!

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $NZ.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $20 per person
$$ => Tickets $20-70 per person
$$$ => Tickets $70 per person

$ => Rooms less than $200 for a double
$$ => Rooms $205-300 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

$ => $1-$35 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$ => $35-$80 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $80 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

N/A => Not applicable

$ => Tickets less than $20 per person
$$ => Tickets $20-$50 per person
$$$ => Tickets $50 per person


Gisborne is a one hour flight from Auckland so you can fly in and hire a car to explore. Airlines include Air New Zealand Link, operated by Air Nelson from 1 August 2016, flying Gisborne to/from Auckland and Wellington; Sunair flying Gisborne to/from Hamilton and Whakatane; Air Napier flying Gisborne to/from Napier and Wairoa. Car hire companies at Gisborne Airport and Gisborne include Avis and Budget.

However, if you have time, driving to Gisborne is all part of the experience via the rugged East Cape, through the stunning Waioeka Gorge, or from the south from the Art Deco city of Napier via Wairoa. There’s also a small domestic airport so another option is fly in and hire a car.

Transportation Hubs

Fly to Gisborne from Auckland or Wellington.


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