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10 Must-Dos in Gisborne

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Things you can’t miss in Gisborne.

Every serious backpacker wanting to explore New Zealand to it’s fullest makes a trip to the world’s most eastern city, Gisborne. The city is on the coast of the North Island’s East Cape or Eastland. With natural attractions as fun as the Rere Rockslide or the waves being as pumping as those at Makorori Beach and Wainui Beach, how can you resist getting in the water in this epic corner of New Zealand? Locals love Gisborne for its wine and festivals in vineyards, especially the New Year’s party Rhythm and Vines! For us backpackers, this makes the area a great place for picking work or volunteering at the festival. On top of that, there are plenty of must-dos in Gisborne.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t miss these top attractions of Gisborne!

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1. Walk through history

Strolling down the waterfront you will step across a number of historical spots. This will take you back to the first European and Maori meetings in history to better understand New Zealand’s colonisation.

Location: Gisborne waterfront.
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2. Visit the Eastwoodhill Arboretum

The National Arboretum of New Zealand is located about 35km north of Gisborne. Covering over 135 hectares, it is home to an incredible variety of native and exotic trees. The huge domain is peaceful and a real treat to visit as it features more Northern Hemisphere trees than you will ever see in the Southern Hemisphere.

Location: Along Wharekopae Road, Gisborne.
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3. Climb Kaiti Hill

Kaiti Hill is a great lookout point over Gisborne and its surrounds. You can spot Wainui Beach and the white cliffs of Young Nick’s Head. The Cook’s Plaza is Gisborne’s #1 selfie spot, featuring a bronze statue of the late Captain James Cook. See here for more walks in the city.

Location: Kaiti Hill is also known as Titirangi. Access is via Queens Drive or takes the walking track by the Cook Monument.
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4. Eat and drink well

The whole Gisborne area is famous in New Zealand for its fantastic wine, beer and cider. On Saturday mornings, head to the market on Stout Street for some great food to go with that drink!

Location: Stout Street and varies wineries across Gisborne.
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5. Party Hard!

The Rhythm & Vines festival is arguably New Zealand’s biggest and most iconic festival. Held in December over the New Year period, the 3-day festival often has an amazing guest list spread over multiple stages. It’s a must-do for any festival lover!

Location: Waiohika Estate vineyard.
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6. Go Rock Sliding

Grab your air mattress, a tube or simple bodyboard and head to the Rere Rockslide! Speed down the rocks and finish in a huge pool. It is a natural attraction like no other. While in the area, check out the Rere Waterfall too.

Location: 50km from Gisborne on the Wharekopae Road.
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7. Visit the city centre

The vibrant town is full of unique buildings and shops giving you an authentic taste of New Zealand culture and life. The town also holds the New Zealand’s oldest European cottage, Wyllie Cottage, built in 1912. That’s old for New Zealand, Ok?! And of course, don’t forget to get a photo of the Town Clock.

Location: Gisborne Central.
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8. Relax in the Botanical Gardens

Located along the Taruheru River, the Gisborne Botanical Gardens is a great spot to unwind. Take a picnic and settle on one of the many grass patches or stay active by taking one of the multiple bushwalks of the gardens.

Location: Beside the Taruheru River.
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9. Surf!

The East Cape, Gisborne’s region,  is a well known as an “off the beaten track” spot for many Kiwi surfers. So while you are in the area, you might want to surf with the locals. Head to Makorori or Wainui Beach for some fun waves to tackle. The two beaches are gorgeous, whether you surf or not, so take a stroll down the beach.

Location: Makorori Beach and Wainui Beach.
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10. Watch the first sunrise in the world

Gisborne is world-famous for one thing: being the first city to see the sunrise every day. So set your alarm clock early, don’t drink too much the day before (quite hard in Gisborne, we know), and sit on the beach to enjoy the show. You’ll feel oh so special that you are the first one to see the new day.

Location: Gisborne waterfront or beaches.
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Exploring the wider Eastland region?

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