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Taking the kids on a Kiwi holiday, exploring, and enjoying the Tairāwhiti region, doesn’t need to cost an arm, a leg, and the entirety of your savings account.

We’ve got a list of nine things to keep the whole family entertained that are 100% free - just as the simple, beautiful things in life should be!

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1. Rere Rockslide

Got an old tyre handy that needs a new lease on life? Turn it into a super speedy seat for the kids to zip down the Rere Rock Slide! A popular local adrenaline rush that won’t cost a cent, the natural slide is about 45 minutes from Gisborne city centre on Wharekopae Road.

It’s also worth catching your breath afterwards beside the Rere Falls themselves; a postcard-perfect rock formation and waterfall.

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Person sliding down Rere Rockslide, Gisborne, New Zealand

Rere Rockslide, Gisborne

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2. Tolaga Bay Wharf

Views meet history meet fishing opportunities at Tolaga Bay Wharf. Built in 1929, the wharf was originally intended as a primary spot for the loading and offloading of cargo ships but was quickly replaced by a sophisticated road through Tairāwhiti for trucks to bring necessary goods into the area.

The Wharf has undergone some major reconstruction and revamping since then and is now the perfect spot to snag a fish, stretching well out into the beautiful bay. Bring the kids and their lines down for a dangle and start a family fishing competition!

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3. Sea Walls Tairāwhiti

Witness the artistic representation of a global ocean conservation program, right here on the streets of Gisborne. Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is a program that educates and brings awareness around preserving the world’s oceans to the streets, with stunning public art for passers-by to learn from and enjoy.

In Tairāwhiti’s case, twenty artists spent a little under a week in 2018 creating 16 murals around the city. Stopping to take one of them in provides the perfect moment of calm for you and your little ones. Head to the Te Rau Press building to see a 3D whale, or to Lowe Street to see a larger-than-life depiction of Micronesian navigator Pius “Mau” Piailug (below), for a start.

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Image from Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans Instagram

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4. Tupapa Heritage Trail

Combine a solid 4km walk with an interesting history lesson on the Tupapa Heritage Trail. You and the family will learn about the unique history and culture of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne, the people who first inhabited the area over 700 years ago, and see some breathtaking landmarks like the Te Maro sculpture.

A self-guided walk thanks to a brilliant app, it’s a new way to explore a unique part of Tairāwhiti’s story.

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Image from Tupapa Wesbite

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5. Beaches!

The quintessential Kiwi holiday photo almost always includes the sea, the sun and sand. And here in Tairāwhiti, you’re absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches. Top spots include Wainui Beach (great surf opportunity for the teens if they’ve had a bit of practice), Midway Beach (epic adventure playground for the younger ones just across from the beach), and after you’ve visited the Wharf at Tolaga Bay, also known as Uawa, you absolutely need to soak in the beauty of its beach. We also can’t recommend highly enough the perfection of Anaura Bay at sunrise. Getting the kids out of bed for it might be tough, but worthwhile for the experience.

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6. East Cape Lighthouse

There’s something magical about a lighthouse. From the story behind it to the beauty of the coastline it sits on, East Cape Lighthouse is a sight to behold. Enjoy the 22km drive from Te Araroa to the historic landmark, then the walk up 700 steps or so to stretch those legs. The teens in your group will then appreciate the Instagram opportunities that the lighthouse offers and the younger ones will love the perilous tale behind how it was built.

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East Cape Lighthouse, Gisborne

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7. Grays Bush

If getting the kids outside into the fresh air and native forest is your goal, look no further than Grays Bush. Situated about 10km outside of Gisborne central, there are two tracks within the reserve to choose from (or do both). One is shorter and wheelchair accessible too, making it a gorgeous route for everyone in your group.

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8. Motu Trails

Did you bring your bikes on the trip? Epic! Hop on and explore Motu Trails. A collection of three interconnected trails, you can choose to do one section for a single-day adventure, or depending on how game you are, you can do all three. Pakihi Track is a favourite, with a swing bridge to ride across Pakihi Stream and 24 other bridges to navigate too. It’s a good challenge for the teenagers in your life. Or, stick to the friendly Dunes Trail for 10km of stellar scenery and cycling family fun.

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9. Cooks Cove (Opoutama) Walkway and Te Pourewa

Combine history, walking, and a refreshing dip in the sea at Cooks Cove (Opoutama). An easy walk from the Tolaga Bay Wharf takes you to this spot where Captain James Cook took a breather in 1769 while circumnavigating New Zealand meeting the main iwi that had made Tolaga Bay (Uawa) home, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, and the various hapū (sub-tribes). It’s truly a beautiful spot in terms of geography and historical tales. You can really feel the heritage of the place while there and, in fact, it’s an official archaeological site. 

The Te Pourewa (Beacon of Light) carving here is worth stopping to take in; it was built to pay homage to Tupaia, the Tahitian ancestor, priest, and navigator who was also aboard the Endeavour and is as stunning as it is significant.

Your holiday photos will be the envy of all thanks to the picture-perfect coastline and Mitre Rocks, the littlies will love splashing around in the gentle waves of the inlet, and you’ll have experienced a tactile, tangible piece of our regional history.

 

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10. Watching the sunrise from Makorori Lookout

After a busy, action-packed day in Tairāwhiti, the first to see the sun, relax with the kids at Makorori Lookout in Wainui by watching the sun as it sets.

It will take around half an hour to complete the easy walk to the Lookout, so pack dinner and dessert, and maybe some local Gisborne wine for Mum and Dad in a chilly bin, and get the crew up there for a stunning view over Wainui Beach as the day draws to a close.

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