The East Coast of New Zealand has a laid back charm. Tairāwhiti or Gisborne is the main city and is said to be the one of the first places in the world to see the light each day due to its geographic location. In summer, it is generally warm with temperatures often in the mid to high 20s. Winter may be cooler and wetter, but it still has plenty of charm. Driving from Wellington, the journey will take around 7 hours 30 minutes. We recommend leaving early and breaking up the drive with a stop in Napier along the way. From Auckland, it is about 7 hours away, so a visit in Tauranga is a good option to break up the drive.
Put on your swimming togs and visit Rere Rockslide. This natural rockslide is around 60 meters long and a lot of fun. Make sure to bring something to slide on, such as an inflatable tyre or bodyboard to get the best experience. You’ll be surprised by how fast you can go down the slippy rocks which have a steady flow of water running down them. We only recommend giving this a go if you are a confident swimmer as you land in a river and will have to paddle or swim your way to the edge. Rere Rockslide is around a 40-minute drive from Gisborne and the nearby Rere Falls (pictured) are also worth a visit on your way.
This is an experience like no other. At Dive Tatapouri you can meet the local stingrays. Wearing waterproof waders, your tour group will walk out into ocean where the guides will introduce you to the stingrays and eagle rays who call the reef home. You can even pat them and feed them if you are brave enough! If you are in the region, this activity is a must do. If you have a waterproof camera or case for your phone, you’ll capture some truly memorable videos or photos of Pancake and the other rays!
The East Coast has some stunning coastal scenery, with 10 beautiful beaches within a short drive from the city. Surfers will enjoy spots including Wainui Beach and the Pines. History buffs will enjoy Kaiti Beach which is closest to the city centre and is said to be the first place in New Zealand that Captain James Cook set foot in 1769. International students who are keen to see or experience Waka Ama (traditional Māori canoes) can visit Tolaga Bay or the Marina. There are so many stunning beaches to chose from within a short drive.
If you are planning a visit to Gisborne over the New Year period add a ticket Rhythm & Vines festival to your Christmas wish list. The R&V festival is held on a vineyard a short drive from the city centre. Aotearoa’s finest musical acts play on the main stage, set in a natural basin. There are a range of other stages including a dance stage and a garden stage. This festival has a big party atmosphere and festival goers dress to impress! Fun loving students should look at the onsite camping options to soak up all that the event has to offer.
Local wineries and brewery
With all that sunshine, Gisborne has a selection of great wineries to choose from. Some of the most well-known vineyards include Matawhero, Bridge Estate and Bushmere Estate. These are great spots to visit on a sunny summer day. Craft beer lovers will enjoy a visit to Sunshine Brewery which has won several gold medals. We recommend visiting their taproom for lunch – it has a relaxed vibe and the pizzas are delicious!
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We want international students to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. We’ve created this blog so you can explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer. If you would like to read previous blogs, you can find them here.