• Tokomaru Bay Wharf 4

    East Coast Explorer: 6 Days in Tairawhiti Gisborne


6 Days


Secluded beaches and hidden bays

Stunning sunrises

Epic surf

Locally produced wine and beer


From Auckland: 494km

From Hamilton: 376km

From Wellington: 534km

In Tairāwhiti Gisborne and along the renowned East Coast of Aotearoa, a world of experiences awaits, from serene encounters with stingrays in Tatapouri Bay and immersing yourself in the vibrant ambiance of Gisborne to embarking on a journey along State Highway 35, where you can connect with the warm-hearted locals who give this place its unique charm.

We’ve started in the north, but if you’re coming from the other direction, just start from the bottom!


Cruising south from Ōpōtiki, you'll meander along SH35 past stunning East Coast beaches and towns with views out across the Pacific Ocean. The road is windy and sheltered by Pohutukawa which are a sight to behold if you're driving through while they're in flower - with bursts of bright red and green filling the sky as you travel south.

Motu River Jet

If you're looking for something to do to break up the drive, stop in at Motu River Jet, just as you hit the cape before Omaio. For 1.5 hours you'll experience some awesome jet boating up the Motu River with plenty of thrills to get the heart racing! The knowledgeable team will also share the local history and explain some of the unique ecology in the area as you take in the majestic sights along the way. 

The Nuthouse Cafe

Tucked away in Whanarua Bay is a small plantation of macadamia trees making the most of the subtropical sun. If you're driving through in the summer months, be sure to stop in at Pacific Coast Macadamias and The Nuthouse Cafe to grab some nutty treats (they also sell ice cream and coffee something for all the whānau!). 

Raukokore Church

This century-old Anglican church is one of the most photographed places on the East Cape. Raukokore Church stands on a promontory next to the Pacific Ocean in Papatea Bay. AA named it one of the region's 101 must-do sites - you'll see why when you get there! 


Your kiwi road trip continues as you travel south along State Highway 35 and there's still plenty to see! Stop off to admire Aotearoa New Zealand's oldest and largest pōhutukawa tree - Te Waha o Rerekohu - at Kawakawa Bay in Te Araroa. Here you'll also find East Cape Manuka Cafe where you will be treated to a great range of food, coffee and honey products.

Maunga Hikurangi

Maunga Hikurangi is the sacred mountain of the Ngati Porou people, and the first place in the world to see the sunrise. Visitors are transported uphill by 4WD where they will be told stories and legends, and of course witness a famous East Coast sunrise. Visitors will also get to taste some of the local produce and are invited to leave their footprint by planting a native seedling as part of a native tree regeneration programme.

Air Ruatoria

Fancy seeing Hikurangi from the air? Or enjoying a stunning scenic flight down the East Coast? Join Mahanga from Air Ruatoria who will take you on a flight you'll remember forever. Enjoy vast mountain views & stunning coastlines as you enjoy Tairāwhiti from the air. 

Stop at Café 35 for a Paua Pie

It doesn't get more kiwi than stopping off at Cafe 35 for a Paua pie! People from all over the country line up to taste one of these delectable pies - you won't regret it! Paua not your thing? There's plenty of other flavours to try like pork belly, mutton curry and the classic mince and cheese. 

Te Puka Tavern

For over 100 years the Te Puka Tavern in Tokumaru Bay has been a place to stop and rest for travellers. Situated 90km north from Gisborne, the tavern is bursting with rural pub charm - it's a great place recharge, grab a bite to eat, and meet some of the friendly locals! There is also some accommodation with views out over the Pacific Ocean - not a bad place to rest your head! 

If you fancy a bit of classic kiwi camping,  we highly recommend Anaura Bay Family Motor Camp which is situated right on the beachfront - what a way to wake up in the morning! 


Whether you're waking up in Tokumaru Bay or Anaura Bay - you'll be treated to another beautiful East Coast sunrise before you hit the road through to Gisborne! 

Tolaga Bay

As you travel down the cape you'll go through the picturesque Tolaga Bay where you won't want to miss checking out the famous historic wharf which has been named as one of the top 100 historic sites in Aotearoa New Zealand, it's worth walking to the end and back if you have time. Another stunning walk is the Cook's Cove Walkway; it takes about 2 hours return but you'll be treated to amazing views and it's a great chance to learn about the history of the region - look out for the information panels along the walk. 

Tipuna Tours

If you're interested in a guided cultural experience, make a booking with Tipuna Tours. They have a range of options including cultural, historical and bespoke tours depending on what you're after. 

Once you're back on the road, it's only another 30 minutes and you're in Gisborne where there is so much to explore – we recommend spending a couple of days exploring Gisborne and its surrounding areas.


Dive Tatapouri

After grabbing some breakfast (check out some of the best spots in town for brunch), head out to Dive Tatapouri to take part in their interactive marine experience - it's a must-do activity when you visit Gisborne! Manuhiri get the opportunity to get up close and personal with a range of sealife, including Stingray and other marine life, as well as learning about the local culture and the beautiful surroundings. 

Discover Rere Falls

One of the most charming waterfalls in New Zealand, Rere Falls, surrounded by farmland, is located on the Wharekopae River and is only 45-minutes drive from Gisborne. The waterfall is accompanied by a great picnic area and has a fantastic swimming pool near the falls. For an extra bit of fun - pack a boogie board and find out how fun it is to slide down a 60m rock waterslide! 

Enjoy fish and chips on the beach

It wouldn't be a beach holiday without a casual fish and chip dinner on the beach! The hardest decision you'll have to make is which beach you want to visit! Wondering where to get the best fish and chips? The locals love: London St Fish & Chips, Aberdeen Fish Shop, and The Sail Away Fish & Chip Shop. 


Gisborne Farmers Market

Held every Saturday morning from 9.30 am – 12.30 pm, the popular Gisborne Farmers Market is on come rain or shine. If you’re lucky enough to visit over a weekend, then make sure to head down to the corner of Stout and Fitzherbert streets across from the Tairāwhiti Museum to discover the charm, spirit, and community of the much-loved Gisborne Farmers Market - a feast for the senses and the soul!

Stop for a drop at our world-class wineries

In this picturesque corner of Aotearoa, you'll find a handful of outstanding wineries that add to the charm of Gisborne. A journey to this region would be lacking without indulging in a day dedicated to the art of wine tasting. There are some great options to choose from, including TW Wines, Matawhero and Wrights - but check out our top tips for a day exploring the vineyards, you won't regret it!

Sunshine Brewery

Did you know Gisborne is home to the oldest independent brewery in New Zealand? Since 1989 Sunshine Brewery has been crafting thirst-quenching beers for locals and visitors alike. Their taproom is located between the beach and downtown Gisborne and is the perfect place to stop for a brew and tasty snacks! 

If you're keen on burning some calories between beers (or wines!), Cycle Gisborne offers a great range of self-guided and guided cycle tours around our wineries and Sunshine Brewery.



Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or pro surfer, you'll find plenty of options to catch one of our world-famous waves. For beginners, Waikanae (Roberts Road) and the northern end of Makarori provide the perfect place to test the waters - and why not grab a lesson with a pro? Learn to Surf with SarahSalt Shack Surf School, and New Wave Surf School are all great options and will set up where the best surf is each day. 

For those with a little more experience under the belt, Wainui Beach and Makorori Beach tend to have the most consistent, year-round breaks. They're also pretty good spots to catch one of those famous East Coast sunrises. 

Fishing & Charters

If you're a keen fisherman, there's plenty of spots to cast a line out into the ocean in Tairāwhiti Gisborne. Keen to head out to deeper water? Jump on board with one of the local fishing charters and they'll take you to some of the best spots in the region. Touchwood Fishing Charters offers full and half-day private charters and cater for novices through to expert anglers. Another great way to get out on the water is a trip with MV Takitimu - they offer sightseeing tours and, if you're lucky, you'll get the chance to see some amazing ocean wildlife.


If you're looking for somewhere to stay when you visit Tairāwhiti Gisborne, you'll find plenty of accommodation options to choose from, including absolute beachfront camping, luxurious hilltop homes, and comfortable motel accommodation in the heart of the city.

Here's some of our favourites

Along the East Coast (from North to South):

Gisborne accommodation options:

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