Surfing with Frank, Museum Visit and Beer-Tasting in Gisborne


270 Days on the Road

If you were only to have one day in Gisborne, which we are so happy that’s not the case for us, then what we do today makes a pretty awesome itinerary. Today, we are cramming three activities, (that’s right, three) into one day! Sometimes 365 Days: 365 Activities is not enough for us.

Sunrise Surfing With Frank

This morning, we learn that starting your day early can only be a good thing in Gisborne. As we head down to Waikanae Beach to go Surfing With Frank, we catch the sunrise fighting to be seen between the thick clouds. Gisborne is the first city in the world to welcome the new day due to being the most eastern city according to the world’s time zones.

Soon enough, Frank in his funky-designed surf-mobile, joins us looking out onto the beach. Although the reason we are doing a surf lesson around 7am is because Frank has managed to squeeze us in at this time, he says that the morning is the best time to surf while the weather is calmer. The wind usually starts to pick up in the afternoon. Plus, we get to do our lesson while the sun is casting a golden glow across Waikanae Beach – pretty stunning!

Kitted up for a morning surf in Gisborne

Frank gets us some wetsuits, showing us a few tricks to get into these second skins, as well as grabbing two aptly sized longboards. Once suited, we head down onto the beach to begin our lesson. Frank teaches us the best positions on the board to be stable when standing up, as well as efficient paddling techniques. He also goes through some safety stuff, such as how to not get slammed in the face with your surfboard and what type of leg strap to get when hiring a board in the future. Although Waikanae Beach is a relatively safe spot to learn how to surf, having at least one lesson with Frank is likely to save us hours of frustration, while giving us the knowledge to not hurt ourselves or someone else.

Nailing it!

Only about 10 minutes later, we are out on the water! Frank teaches us the least-tiring and safest ways to get out to the waves, whether its walking the board or paddling out. Then he is getting the board set up for a wave, telling us when to paddle to catch a wave, and shouting: “Now!” when it’s the prime moment to attempt standing up. Wahoo! We both stand up first time!

An awesome morning with Frank

It’s back out to Frank who then caters the lesson to what we can do – this is the great thing about having a small group lesson (he takes no more than six people per session). We feel a lot more confident having an instructor who has the technique and experience to teach well.

We spend the rest of the morning perfecting our technique and even learning how to turn. We’re absolutely buzzing! It’s an awesome feeling to achieve the next step in surfing. And, we can’t deny, it’s always fun to splash about in the waves.

Checking out the fascinating maritime exhibition

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Next stop, the Tairawhiti Museum

Back on dry land, we are parting ways with Frank, who has been a hoot! We’ve loved the guy’s energy. Now we are drying off and heading to a much calmer activity, the Tairawhiti Museum.

The Gisborne regional museum is across town and over the bridge on Stout Street. It’s a small entry fee into the museum, but we soon discover it is more than worth it. Reflecting on the Eastland region having the most Maori population compared to any other region in New Zealand, all the information panels in the museum read in both English and te reo Maori, the Maori language. We even overhear a group of school children being talked to in both English and te reo Maori. Even the museum is named after the Maori name for the Eastland region.

Learning about the Maori culture

With that, there are heaps of ever-changing exhibitions showcasing some of the most impressive pieces of taonga (treasures), from intricately carved shell horns to weapons. The iwi (tribe) exhibition showing during our visit is that of the Ko Rongowhakaata. Both modern and traditional carvings are on display, including a hoe (a paddle) which was one of several original paddles traded with Captain Cook when he and his crew first arrived in the Gisborne area. The story is further expressed in a temporary art exhibition next door called “a-hoe!” depicting the designs that were painted onto the original paddles. These paddles are on display in museums all over the world now, holding the history of the iwi’s ancestors. Not all of them have been found.

Maritime surprises

We then move downstairs into an exhibition called “Te Moana” – Eastland’s connection with the waters. The first thing we notice is a huge cut-away of a ocean-going waka (canoe), as well as some small river waka and tools found around the region. At the back of the room is a collection of surfboards through the ages – pretty appropriate considering our activity this morning!

The biggest surprise to our visit to the Tairawhiti Museum is finding ourselves stepping into the wheelhouse of a ship overlooking the Taruheru River! We are in an actual wheelhouse taken from The Star of Canada, which wrecked just off the shore of Gisborne.

After looking at the many displays and art galleries of the museum, we go outside for one last addition to the museum, Wyllie House. This recently restored cottage was one of the first examples of a European-style home built in Gisborne.

An afternoon at the Sunshine Brewery

With that, we head back to the YHA Gisborne hostel to make some lunch, then decide to head back to a place we have driven by too many times to ignore: The Sunshine Brewery. New Zealand love their craft beers and Gisborne has its very own. In fact, the Sunshine Brewery is the oldest independently-owned brewery in New Zealand.

We head into the tap room and get ourselves two tasting trays – that’s 10 beers out of the 18 the Sunshine Brewery have on the market. When the bartender starts pouring into what looks like quarter-pint glasses, we know we’re in for a tipsy afternoon.

Armed with two tasting trays, ranging from the lightest beers to the strongest, we read the notes given for each beer, which are hilariously written (and scarily accurate). To be honest, we can’t finish all our beers, but we are still able to stand to have a quick look behind-the-scenes at The Sunshine Brewery with one of the brewers.

That’s all we can fit into today’s post, as we are too tipsy to continue this tale. Join us tomorrow where we will be checking out the Eastwood Hill Arboretum and do some more tastings of the alcoholic nature!

Cheers to a morning of surfing, getting our knowledge on, and an afternoon of craft beer!

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