If you’re ever looking for a peaceful getaway in the Gisborne area and don’t mind an hour drive on winding roads from the city, I’d highly recommend Mahaanui. We could’ve spent our whole time there, if we didn’t have lots of exploring we wanted to do further afield. There was plenty in the area, including walks, arboretums, waterfalls, swimming spots and much more. Actually, you could happily spend your entire getaway without leaving the farm itself.
To get to the farmstay, you first turn off the main road to Tiniroto onto a smaller serpentine thoroughfare that winds down into a river valley. You’re immediately confronted with this incredible view of the river and cliffs below, before crossing the bridge you can see on the left. There’s also a park down there where people camp and swim in summer known as Donneraille Park.
On our first day, we did one of a couple farm walks. You can go for about three hours, but we only did about half of it before the weather started to turn. The views were outstanding. On our second evening, I wandered back up to the start of the path to get some golden hour photos. First, you have to pass through the enchanting garden gate.
The sheep seemed to wonder why they’d been so rudely interrupted during their peaceful evening grazing.
The rolling hills stretched on as far as the eye could see. Mahaanui itself covers 614 hectares (1,517 acres), and there are a lot of other farms as the road continues on.
I was reminded a little bit of the verdant patchwork farms of Vermont in summer.
Our house looked especially cute from above, nestled in amongst the trees.
The fences were tufted with wool, where the sheep must scratch their itches.
I found a perfect spot at the top of the hill above our cottage, scoped out a spot that was free of sheep poo, and sat down. It was lovely to take in the view for a while from up above, and just appreciate the quiet afternoon.
One curious lamb decided to be brave and check me out while I took his/her photo, instead of fleeing like the others. Thanks, lamby!
Back down below, I had to capture our cute home for three nights. This is the back, where we spent a lot of time on the deck.
The blooming jacaranda tree behind the house was a highlight.
And there’s the front!
On our last day, we had enough time for another wander, but first our lovely host Sally had invited us to stop by the main house for some tea. As soon as we got there, we were greeted by a range of animals.
There was Ziggy the cat.
And Fig the border terrier.
And a friendly pig, too.
Sally also had a couple lambs who had been ill, so she was hand-rearing them. Guests can come by and bottle-feed them, which is a big hit with kids.
After tea and some delicious lemon cake (they’re drowning in lemons in the Gisborne area, so Sally does a lot of baking with the farm’s produce), it was time to head off on our walk. But first, we wanted to feed the pigs our compost. To do this, we had to get past the bulls that were blocking our way. Sally had to help us out with this, since we weren’t about to try to move two big bulls on our own.
Apparently these bulls were purchased at the same time and put in separate pens. One of them busted through a couple fences to get to the other one, and they’ve been inseparable (inesepara-bull?) ever since. Just a couple of best mates. Very cute! Once Sally had shooed them off, we fed the pigs and piglets.
Fig was keen to come along on the walk, so Sally left her to be our tour guide and said goodbye as we set off. This time, we were headed down to the the river.
Fig knew the way and only occasionally ran off in various directions.
It was a hot day and would’ve been a great time for a swim if we had more time. You can see patient Fig waiting up ahead for us to catch up.
Going back uphill was definitely the hottest part, and Fig had to take a couple breaks in the shade.
Luckily, she could cool off easily enough.
Back at the house, it was sadly time to pack up and say goodbye to Mahaanui. Fig stuck around, so I had to walk her back to the main house eventually, though it was tempting to take her back to Wellington. I think she’d be missed! Sally and her husband own a lot of farm dogs, but Fig is the only house dog.
Goodbye Fig. Goodbye sheep. Goodbye jacaranda. Goodbye verdant valley!
We had enough time to stop in at Sunshine Brewery in Gisborne, and visit the beach briefly before heading to the airport.
Gisborne not only met but exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait to go back and explore on a longer trip in future. It’s a true paradise.
Up next, the South Island!