For Labour Weekend in October, my friends and I had arranged a trip up to Gisborne for three nights to explore. I’ve been wanting to visit that part of NZ ever since I first arrived, but had never got around to it, so I was excited to finally get the chance! On a Friday morning, the two Emmas and I hopped on a small plane, and after some shenanigans involving a fire alarm at the airport which delayed our flight by a couple hours, we were off to sunny Gizzy.
We picked up our rental car at the (tiniest ever) airport, stocked up on groceries and made the hour drive southwest to our farmstay, which was near a tiny “town” called Tiniroto. It was definitely off the beaten path, but I’d say it was worth it for the view from our deck.
We spent lots of time watching sheep and lambs run about while we sipped tea at the outdoor table. After all the travel, it was nice to have a low key evening at the house and a nice dinner in.
The next morning, on our first full day, we set off fairly early for the Gisborne Farmers’ Market. We found some great local food and drink, and then hit the road towards the coast, up to our destination of Tolaga Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Our first stop was the pier, which we decided to walk out to the tip of before having our lunch.
The color of the water was absolutely amazing, almost like we were somewhere in Thailand.
At 660 meters (2165 feet) in length, this wharf is the longest in NZ and was used for large coastal trading ships starting in 1929 when it first opened. Nowadays, it’s a popular spot for fisherman and tourists, since road transport has superseded any need for ships to dock here.
We spent a few minutes out at the end of the pier, enjoying the view of the coast, cliffs and the East Cape extending into the distance. We would’ve loved to drive further on the Pacific Coast Highway, but we only had so much time in the day. My plan is to come back at some point for a week or more and drive the entire coast of the East Cape, stopping frequently to explore.
Back on shore, we had lunch at a picnic table in the sunshine, with a beautiful view of the wharf.
Our next stop was the Cook’s Cove Walkway, which starts in Tolaga Bay.
A couple hour return trek, this walk takes you through farmland and bush to a cove where Captain Cook stopped in 1769 as part of his circumnavigation of New Zealand.
The cove was beautiful, and there were hardly any others we encountered while there (people, anyway – lots of sheep). This spot is known as Opoutama and has an extensive Māori history dating back before Cook’s visit here.
Emma P went in for a dip, though had to walk out quite some way until it got any deeper. Hello out there!
Time for a Charlie’s Angels photo op, because why not?
The next point of interest on the walk was the “Hole-in-the-Wall” rock formation.
Definitely a cool spot. The last part of the hike was a tough slog, since we made the mistake of going during the hottest part of the day, and it was all uphill. Worth it for the views, though!
You get a better idea of the scale of the wharf from above.
And here’s Cook’s Cove on the right, where we just hiked up from:
Once we were back at the car, it was time to head down the coast, with a brief pit stop to take in this incredible view.
Our next destination was Rere Rockslide – just picture a giant natural mossy rock slip ‘n slide. I recommend watching this video for the full effect. It was pretty quiet since we were there at the end of the day, but it must get really busy at times! There was a group of guys with some beers there when we arrived, and they were standing up and surfing down on boogie boards, frequently falling off but not seeming to mind. However, we took the granny method with slower (still pretty fast with all the slimy algae) rubber tubes.
After a few runs each, and some bruised bums, elbows and knees, we called it a success and dried off. Definitely a uniquely NZ attraction and something to tick off the bucket list! Right down the road was Rere Falls, where we had to stop before heading back to Tiniroto.
I hope you enjoyed coming along for our very action-packed first day in Gizzy! Next up, Em B and I take on the rail bikes for a unique adventure on our second day. What, did you think we’d be relaxing on our holiday?