8 great: Gisborne experiences

8 great: Gisborne experiences

Tairāwhiti Gisborne boasts a wealth of experiences, from vineyards and delicious dining, to surfing, coastal walkways, Rere Rockslide, and so much more. And while most of these are well known, there are (in our humble opinion) eight stand-out experiences that deserve to be sampled next time you visit. Editor Lisa Potter recently spent some time in the region and left with a rich collection of lasting memories.

1. Dive Tatapouri

8 great: Gisborne experiences
The stingray experience at Dive Tatapouri. Photo : Brook Sabin

If you’ve been to Tairāwhiti Gisborne and this wasn’t part of your trip, you need to return, stat. There’s a reason this interactive marine experience is world-famous, and while it keeps a pretty low profile locally, it’s 100% worth making a special trip for. It’s definitely not just another reef ecology tour. The outstanding team at Tatapouri Dive work with the ocean; tours are set up around low tide when friendly stingrays arrive clamouring for attention. Learn fascinating facts, and feed and stroke the velvety stingrays as they swim by. The tour kicks off with lessons on how to manage yourself in the knee-deep water (boots and waders are provided). It’s a truly uplifting experience. Divetatapouri.com.

2. Tatapouri Bay

8 great: Gisborne experiences
Tatapouri Bay is a stunning campsite offering an array of RV and camping sites, as well as accommodation options

If you’ve ventured 15 mins out of central Gisborne to Tatapouri for the stingray experience, don’t leave without taking a short stroll across the car park, past the boat ramp to Tatapouri Bay. This thriving campsite not only offers tent, caravan and motorhome parking but also an astonishing array of beautifully set up accommodation from glamping tents and zen cabins to Podlifes and log cabins. It’s also become a popular hub for locals thanks to excellent coffee (locally roasted Far East Coffee Co) and Al Brown’s best Ugly Bagels, as well as sunrise yoga sessions and more. The café closes over winter but that doesn’t mean you can’t add it to your must-do list for return visits. Or book into the Glamping or Zen Cabins and enjoy a steaming spa pool overlooking the ocean. Tatapouri.co.nz.

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3. Gisborne Railbike Adventures

8 great: Gisborne experiences
This unique experience involves dual cycling along disused railway lines taking in mesmerising scenery along the way

There’s something thrilling about pedalling along disused railway lines, discovering unique pockets of Gisborne only those travelling by train would previously have enjoyed. Choose from a one-hour guided tour to a half-day tour, with your choice of standard bike or e-bike. Pedal as a pair and enjoy hidden gems, railway bridges and sidings, tunnels, and picnic spots. The brainchild of engineer Geoff Main, the unique tandem cycle experience is the result of eight years of painstaking planning. The result is an innovative offering along vineyards, coastal spots and even orange groves and natural ‘green’ tunnels of tree canopy. Railbikes.nz.

4. Tairāwhiti Museum and Art Gallery

8 great: Gisborne experiences
An installation by Michelle Hinekura Kerr at Tairawhiti Museum

The days of museums being staid and dull are long gone – particularly in Gisborne. This joyous offering is a showcase of local arts, culture and heritage activities across nine galleries. The crowning glory is the genuine wheelhouse and captain’s cabin of the Star of Canada, perfectly placed so that when you stand on the bow, you’re actually looking out over the water of Taruheru River. Then there’s Watersheds | Ngā Wai Pupū, a semi-permanent exhibition giving a snapshot of the history of the Gisborne/East Coast region, and Te Moana Maritime Gallery, covering everything from shipwrecks and surfing to the arrival of Captain James Cook. Tairawhitimuseum.org.nz.


5. Dome Cinema

8 great: Gisborne experiences
A unique movie experience like no other at Dome Cinema

The rise of streaming has seen a vast change in the way we view movies. However, Gisborne’s independent, art-house Dome Cinema is the ultimate reminder of why ‘going to the movies’ can still be a decadent treat. It’s a unique experience a million miles away from large commercial ventures. From the spectacular stained glass dome ceiling to enormous pillowy bean bags with cushions and blankets to cosy up in, as well as being able to enjoy a wine or cocktail, it’s enough to turn even the most reluctant moviegoer. Then there’s the authentic gourmet pizzas and tasty treats that can be enjoyed in the garden bar or timed to arrive during intermission. Domecinema.co.nz.

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6. Tahu Restaurant

8 great: Gisborne experiences
The interior of Tahu offers a relaxed friendly vibe

If you really want to experience authentic flavours of the region, Tahu is infused with the heartbeat of what grows and is caught locally. Located beachfront on Centennial Marine Drive, it’s also arguably the prime spot to sit outside (with one of the lush cocktails on offer) and watch the sun sink into the ocean. The creation of Jared Johnstone and his partner Rhiannon, whose children are the 31st generation in their Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri ancestry, the name Tahu represents the embodiment of food and feasting and is a reminder of the connection between people and nature, and food and identity. Tahu.co.nz.

7. Sunshine Brewery

8 great: Gisborne experiences
Sunshine Brewery

Relaxed dining at its best, with possibly one of the largest collections of craft and tap beer in Aotearoa. As well as serving epic pizzas, there are more than 20 Sunshine beers on tap. Flavours include summer favourite Guava, Watermelon & Lime Sour and the iconic Gisborne Green Pilsner. As New Zealand’s oldest independent brewery, there’s plenty of heritage and pride here and it’s the perfect place to chillax, share yarns and plan your next day’s adventures. Sunshinebrewing.co.nz.

8. Gisborne Farmers Market

Held every Saturday morning from 9.30am to 12.30pm, the popular Gisborne Farmers Market takes place come rain or shine. Located just across from Tairāwhiti Museum, there’s a wealth of local produce and delicious treats, as well as live music, fresh flowers, and baked yumminess. Support local growers and treat your tastebuds (our pics are the Beebox Honey, Gizzy-grown Hass avocados and Torere hot roasted macadamia nuts). Embrace being part of the local community and enjoy. Gisbornefarmersmarket.co.nz.

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