Gisborne has three major swimming beaches, Midway, Waikanae, and Wainui. Lifeguards patrol all three in season. Kaiaua Beach, 60km (37 miles) north of Gisborne and 6km (3 3/4 miles) off State Highway 35, is good for fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Anaura Bay, 77km (48 miles) north of Gisborne and 6km (3 3/4 miles) off State Highway 35, was Captain Cook’s second landing spot in New Zealand. It has a beautiful beach of unspoiled golden sand, offering safe swimming and good fishing. A 3.5km (2-mile) bush walk gives wonderful scenic views; allow 2 1/2 hours. You can make marae visits here; there is a motor camp as well.
In this area, you can do anything from freshwater fly-fishing for brown trout to game fishing for marlin in the Pacific. For the independent angler, the Pacific Coast Highway is the ultimate route for surf-casting, game fishing, and diving. Local knowledge is plentiful, and visitors can take a shortcut to success by contacting local fishing clubs or taking advantage of guides and charter services. Saltwater fishing does not require a license. The Motu, Waioweka, Hangaroa, and Ruakituri rivers offer some of the finest freshwater fishing. Licenses are required for all freshwater fisheries. Surfit Enterprises, 48 Awapuni Rd., Gisborne (tel. 06/867-2970; www.surfit.co.nz), offers a 7-hour fishing trip for NZ$150 per person. Their saltwater fly-fishing excursions are priced on request. For more information, call Fish & Game New Zealand’s Trout Line (tel. 0800/876-885 in NZ; www.fishandgame.org.nz), the Gisborne Fishery Office (call tel. 06/868-7160), or visit the New Zealand Ministry of Fishes online at out www.fish.govt.nz.
Poverty Bay Golf Club, Awapuni and Lytton roads, Gisborne (tel. 06/867-4402; www.gisbornegolf.co.nz), is one of the top 10 18-hole courses in the country. Fees are NZ$45 for 18 holes and NZ$30 for 9 holes; and there is a pro shop on-site.
One of the best horse-trekking operations around is Eastender Horse Treks, 876A Rangitukia Rd., Tikitiki (tel./fax 06/864-3033; www.eastenderhorsetreks.co.nz), located near the top of East Cape. Their treks take you over beaches and through native bush and farmland and cost NZ$85 per person. They also offer backpacker accommodations (tel. 06/864-3820) for NZ$25 per person, cabins for NZ$60 double, and camping sites for NZ$10 per person per night.
Snorkelling with Sharks
Get face to face with mako sharks—from the safety of a cage, of course. Surfit Shark Cage Experience, 48 Awapuni Rd., Gisborne (tel. 06/867-2970; www.surfit.co.nz), will take you out into reef waters teeming with the marine predators from November to April. The 5-hour experience costs NZ$310, which seems like a lot of money to terrify yourself—but think of the stories you can tell afterward. Spectators pay NZ$150. Dive Tatapouri, State Highway 35, Tatapouri (tel. 06/868-5153; www.divetatapouri.com), offers shark cage diving for NZ$300, and if you join their Reef Experience (NZ$40 adults, NZ$20 ages 5-15), you can see guides feeding and interacting with wild stingrays, eagle rays, and other reef dwellers. Waders are provided.
The popular surf beaches are Makorori Point, Pouawa, Sponge Bay, and Kaiaua. Midway Beach has the famous Gisborne pipe, known for its deep barrel rides, and Waikanae and Wainui beaches are also good for surfing and bodyboarding. Kaiti Beach, around the Gisborne Port and harbor area, offers excellent sailboarding and yachting. The visitor center staff will point you in the direction of numerous other surf breaks.
Gisborne Olympic Pool Complex, Centennial Marine Drive (tel. 06/867-6220; fax 06/867-4953), is open daily from 6am to 8pm. It has indoor and outdoor pools, a dive pool, a Jacuzzi and therapy pool, a 98m (320-ft.) hydroslide, and a toddlers’ pool.
Good walking abounds in this area. For an easy amble, pick up the free brochure Gisborne, An Historic Walk, which leads around the inner city on a 1-to 3-hour wander. Walks of the Eastland Region (available at the visitor center), is a more comprehensive appraisal of excellent walks in the whole region. Serious trampers who want to investigate the wilderness areas of the remote Te Urewera National Park should contact the Department of Conservation, Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, Private Bag, Wairoa (tel. 06/837-3803). Apart from the famous multiday Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, there are at least 15 short and day walks in this area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.