Ace Rental Cars Blog

48 Hours in Gisborne, New Zealand

The largest city in the region, Tairāwhiti / Gisborne is known for its wineries and surf beaches, as well as being a place of important cultural history. If you’re ready for an East Coast holiday on the North Island, discover our guide below for the best places to visit during your stay.

  • Tairāwhiti Museum and Art Gallery
  • Gisborne Botanical Gardens
  • Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of New Zealand
  • Makorori Beach

Day 1: Art and Culture

  • Wi Pere Monument
  • Tairāwhiti Museum and Art Gallery
  • City Rose Gardens

With so much to see and do in Gisborne, begin your 48-hour escape with in-town exploration. Prepare for your adventure with breakfast at Zest Cafe. Serving up delicious burgers and barista-made coffee in a lively cafe atmosphere, it’s the perfect way to dine like a local. After breakfast, visit the Wi Pere Monument just around the corner to view the commemorative landmark built to mark the landing of the Māori troops in Tairāwhiti in 1919. Head over the Taruheru River to the Tairāwhiti Museum and Art Gallery to discover more local history - the museum holds exhibits showcasing the region's history, culture, and art, focusing on Māori works. Visit Wyllie Cottage - the oldest European house in the area - and the shipwreck of The Star of Canada. Visitors can roam the wheelhouse and captain’s cabin which wrecked on the Gisborne foreshore in 1912. After a morning filled with history, take a walk among the beautiful flora at the City Rose Gardens.

Day 1: Explore More

  • Gisborne Botanical Gardens
  • Titirangi / Kaiti Hill
  • Breakers Restaurant

Take your journey from the City Rose Gardens to the Gisborne Botanical Gardens, just a short walk away. Here is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Tairāwhiti’s natural beauty with a leisurely stroll through the stunning greenery and take a moment to enjoy the feeling of being on holiday. The gardens boast various plant species, allowing you to travel the world through the collections. With areas including a Japanese garden, an Australian garden, and a New Zealand native garden, it’s a plant lovers’ paradise. After some time spent among the blooms, drive your Ace rental car to Titirangi / Kaiti Hill for panoramic views of Gisborne and the coastline. At Titirangi Reserve, you’ll find landmarks and monuments reflecting Māori history, including the Te Maro (Ngāti Oneone) memorial, the Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve, Cook’s Plaza, and the World War II Gun Emplacement. These sites commemorate Captain James Cook's landing in 1769 and offer insights into local history. After exploring, head to Breakers Restaurant for classic burger-and-grill-style dinner dishes in a relaxed setting. Now is the perfect time to reflect on your first day in Gisborne and look forward to tomorrow’s adventures.

Day 2: Natural Wonders

  • Wainui Beach
  • Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of New Zealand
  • Rere Rock Slide Waterfall

Start your second day in Gisborne early by watching the sunrise over the horizon at Wainui Beach. It's a peaceful spot to enjoy the first light before preparing for the day ahead. Duck into Zephyr cafe for a quick breakfast and morning coffee by the seaside, then from here, it’s a 35-minute drive in your rental car to Eastwoodhill National Arboretum of New Zealand. Home to over 25,000 species of trees, plants, and shrubs from all over the world, enjoy a relaxing stroll through the vast collection of trees and gardens. Connect with nature on one of the six available trails and settle in for a picnic lunch in the courtyard. After exploring the gardens, drive a further 15 minutes inland to the Rere Rock Slide Waterfall. Here you can slide down the rock formations and experience the exhilaration of a natural waterslide or wander over to the Rere Falls to admire the stunning waterfall.

Day 2: Unwind by the Beach

  • Te Poho-o-Rāwiri Marae
  • Makorori Beach
  • Wharf Bar and Grill

After a day spent in nature, drive back to Gisborne for a dose of local history and culture at the Te Poho-o-Rāwiri Marae. This Māori meeting house is one of the largest in Aotearoa / New Zealand, with carvings of ancestral figures to admire and historic plaques to read - observe the Marae from the outside, and remember not to enter the meeting house unless invited in. End your day by relaxing at Makorori Beach. Dubbed the best beach in the area, it’s a beautiful setting to take in the scenery and unwind before your journey concludes. Whether you take a dip in the vibrant blue waters, explore the rockpools or head out on a coastal hike, Makorori’s tranquil atmosphere invites you to make the most of your final evening in Tairāwhiti. For your last dinner in Gisborne, indulge in a meal by the waterfront at Wharf Bar and Grill. Serving up freshly caught seafood, housemade burgers and open-plate sandwiches, it’s the perfect place to dine and reflect on your 48 hours in the Gisborne region.

After exploring Gisborne’s rich history, natural wonders, and cultural gems, you’ll be urged to come back and make even more memories in this beautiful city.

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