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Cheap Car Hire Gisborne Airport
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A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Gisborne and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Gisborne you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those on the tabs below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the Out East tourism website.
East Cape Lighthouse
The historic East Cape Lighthouse is perched atop Otiki Hill, at the most easterly point on the North Island. As you might imagine the views from this point are quite spectacular. The trek up the 700 steps isn’t for the faint of heart, though - you’ve been warned!
The East Cape lighthouse - which featured on postal stamps in the 1970s - rises more than 150 metres above sea level. Although you can walk around the lighthouse, the building itself is not actually open to the public for entry.
The lighthouse was initially constructed out on East Island and was originally lit in 1900. However, the island itself was somewhat unstable (and life was hard for the keepers on this unforgiving land) and so the lighthouse was relocated to the mainland in 1922. You can see out to East Island from the current placement on Otiki Hill.
In the middle of the century the oil burning lamp was converted to electricity, and in the 2000s replaced with a rotating beacon. The old light can be seen at the bottom of the tower. And while it was originally watched by three different keepers, the lighthouse became fully automated in the 1980s; it is now monitored from Maritime New Zealand’s office based down in Wellington.
A number of pleasant beaches lie along the coast which you may like to check out after descending the hill.
The East Cape lighthouse lies 3 hours north of Gisborne, past Te Araroa - it’s a mostly unsealed road from the township on. The road hugs the coastline so the views from your rental car will be breathtaking. Stop in the settlement of Te Araroa to see the biggest and eldest pohutukawa tree in the country - it’s about 600 years old. And in Tikitiki further down the road you’ll find St Mary’s, an incredibly ornate Maori church that has to be seen in person.
Gisborne enjoys the status of fourth largest wine region in the country, and in particular being known as the chardonnay capital of New Zealand. However, its somewhat remote East Cape location means it is slightly off the beaten wine track - so if you’re after a tranquil escape, it makes for a great getaway.
Gisborne’s climate is perfectly suited to viticulture - sunny and warm, with grapes here among the first to be harvested each season. Sheltered by mountains and cooled by sea breezes, wines here are flavourful and their acidity is preserved. Where lush hills give way to flood plains the wines become more aromatic with a faint tinge still of the ocean.
A broad range of varieties are produced in Gisborne. Gisborne chardonnay is rich, strong and fruity, while pinot gris, riesling and Gewürztraminer are common aromatics. When it comes to red wines, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and syrah are among the varieties on offer.
The first grapevines were originally planted as far back as the 1850s although it wasn’t until a century later that the winemaking industry became established. Today boutique and small scale growers dominate the local wine production scene.
Gisborne’s vineyards are easily reached from the city - just a short drive in your rental car. For starters, there’s the historical Matawhero Vineyard or lively TW Wines. Hihi Wines produces a number of both red and white wines, along with sparkling and fortified varieties. Ashwood Estate is unique in that it only ferments in wood. Award winning Milton Vineyard rests on the banks of the Te Arai River and specialises in riesling and twists on the Chenin Blanc variety, and along with Wrights Vineyard, uses biodynamic and organic methods.
Once you’ve had your fill of sipping and strolling among the vines, make the most of the food scene. Gisborne and the surrounding region are brimming with citrus, stonefruit, and an array of different vegetables. So unsurprisingly, the fresh produce here is second to none.
Sun and surf go together hand in hand and Gisborne. It’s the first part of New Zealand to see the dawn, and one of the best towns in which to catch a wave.
The consistency of the waves here is a key draw, and the surf is usually friendlier than on the west coast of the country. The open coast gets swells from multiple directions so the surf is usually up at any of the local beaches, with lots of breaks to suit beginners, intermediates and experts.
Quality breaks abound within a short distance of central Gisborne and they are never too crowded.
Wainui Beach is the most popular surf spot, with the best waves found toward the southern end of the beach. Waves can vary a lot throughout the day. There are lots of access points so just hop in your rental car and go for a drive until you see a stretch that takes your fancy.
Waikanae is ideal for newbies, however the swells can still be large and powerful.
At Midway Beach the biggest waves can usually be seen in front of the surf club. This is a good consistent surf spot with barrels though you may have to paddle hard.
Further out, breaking over a shallow reef, you’ll find a great ride at Makoriri Point - another top surf location.
Sponge Bay is home to several surf spots and is usually fairly relaxed. Keep an eye out for submerged logs and rocks, though.
At Okitu there are more breaks to be found. The sand shifts frequently and conditions vary from shallow and mellow to strong currents and rips.
There are plenty of other excellent surf beaches around Gisborne - simply jump behind the wheel of your rental car and roam around.
Interested in colonial and Maori history? Then you’ll love the intriguing Tairawhiti Museum in central Gisborne, which is conveniently close to rental depots. And if you happen to be visiting on a Monday then entry to the museum is free.
The East Cape has a strong cultural history and at Tairawhiti Museum the heritage of East Coast Maori is front and centre. The museum’s exhibitions focus on both recent and earlier history.
The sweeping Watersheds/Nga Wai Pupu exhibition is a powerful tribute to Tairawhiti. From Maori legends accounting for the creation of the world to the modern city of Gisborne that stands today, this is a significant collection not to be missed.
The Shutterbug Jack collection features street photography from 1930s-1940s era Gisborne during the 1930s and 1940s, a very different time.
Also in the World War vein, the Price of Citizenship exhibit pays homage to the Maori battalion. There is a wall dedicated entirely to photos of the soldiers who risked their lives for the Allied side in World War 2.
The maritime wing covers everything from whaling to waka (Maori canoes) and a quirky display of vintage surfboards. Seafaring stories, myths and legends are all part and parcel of the package, along with the evolution of Gisborne’s harbour; local shipwrecks; fishing and surf life saving; and of course, the arrival of Captain James Cook.
The Tairawhiti Museum is also the arts hub of Gisborne, complete with an outstanding gallery extension. There are regularly changing exhibits and photographic collections, contemporary New Zealand art.
A shop and a cafe are both part of the museum, overlooking Kelvin Park. Nearby you’ll also find Gisborne’s very oldest European house, the reconstructed Wyllie Cottage, dating back to 1872. Stop in and pay a visit as it is open to the public, and learn about the stories of those who once dwelled here.
East Coast Museum of Technology
These days the word technology usually conjures up images of innovative and cutting edge computers, smartphones and wearables, and it’s easy to forget that it’s a broad field - everything from the humble bicycle to life saving medical equipment falls into this category.
The East Coast Museum of Technology is a unique attraction and a must see for anyone who loves the past. There’s an enormous variety of historic artifacts related to the Gisborne district, particularly of the agricultural persuasion, many of which are in the process of or awaiting restoration. It is packed to the brim with old things, from cars and trucks through to household appliances and farm machinery. There are lots of fire engines, emergency and military vehicles that are quite impressive to look at. On the other end of the scale, old household contents offer a peek into every day life from a time gone by.
An analogue mecca of odds and ends, the East Coast Museum of Technology is good for hours of amusement and amazement. Be prepared to encounter a bit of dust, rust, and must; the cobwebs have certainly settled in at parts.
The humble East Coast Museum of Technology is housed in a number of barns and sheds, its collections spread across different buildings. The adjoining Makaraka station is being developed into a vintage railway; and the old local telephone exchanges have also been acquired, too.
Every year the East Coast Museum of Technology hosts a Live Day event, which is a real local highlight on the calendar. Display pieces are brought outdoors and made available to touch and try out by visitors. There is even the opportunity to take a ride on selected vehicles.
The East Coast Museum of Technology is run by a group of passionate volunteers and is located in Makaraka - a few minutes’ drive from central Gisborne in your rental car.
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