Free Things to Do in Gisborne
You don’t have to blow a whole lot of cash to have a good time in Gisborne. The Eastland city has many attractions from it’s awesome beachfront to its rich culture and history, so finding free things to do in Gisborne is a breeze. Check out some of the highlights in this guide of free and cheap things to do in Gisborne.
Experiencing the tastes, history, culture and scenery is either free or extremely affordable. Much of the city’s highlights can be found on foot, saving you money on transport. Plus, the museums, quirky art-house cinemas, cideries and breweries let you experience them for well under NZ$20!If you plan to travel further afield in the Gisborne and Eastland region, be sure to check out 9 Pacific Coast Highway Walks You Can’t Miss and Gisborne – Guide for Backpackers.
1. Walk Along the Town Beach Walkway
The waterfront in Gisborne is a favourite place for locals and for good reason! Follow the Gisborne Riverbank and Town Beach Walkway to watch waves and surfers, see the white cliffs of Young Nick’s Head in the distance, and see historic memorials along the way. You can make this walk as long or short as you like, as there are plenty of entry/exit points. Otherwise, start the Taruheru River at the end of Grey Street and follow the pathway to the beachfront boardwalk. Find more walks in Gisborne in our 10 Gisborne Walks You Can’t Miss.
Location: Gisborne Waterfront
2. Watch the Sunrise from the “First City”
Thanks to our world’s time zones, Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the new day. Mark this momentous occasion by heading to one of Gisborne’s easterly-facing beaches, either Wainui, Makorori or Okitu) to watch the sunrise.
Location: Wainui Beach or Makorori Beach or Okitu Beach
3. Visit the Tairawhiti Museum
Take a glance into the portal of Gisborne’s past, from early Polynesian settlers to the surfing culture of today. Tairawhiti is the Maori name for the Gisborne area, so expect to see treasures and relics of the Eastland region. At just NZ$5 for a visitor entry fee, it’s worth it to see the awesome Maori artefacts, climb into the wheelhouse of a ship, and learn about the place where the first Europeans stepped onto New Zealand.
Location: 10 Stout Street
4. Hike Up to the Kaiti Hill Lookout
Everyone loves a good view. The best one to be found in Gisborne is on Kaithi Hill. Either walk up or drive up Kaiti Beach Road where the lookout is by a Captain Cook monument. From here, you can access a number of walks around the Titirangi Domain. Find out more in 10 Gisborne Walks You Can’t Miss.
Location: Kaiti Hill accessed via Kaiti Beach Road or Ranfurly Road
5. Have a Unique Movie Experience at the Dome Cinema
The Dome Cinema: how all cinemas should be! Relax in an over-sized beanbag or on a sofa with a beer or wine in hand. Showing art films from Wednesdays to Sundays, the Dome Cinema is more than just about the movies. Hang out in their bar, enjoy the awesome lighting displays, and the staff even help tuck you into your beanbag! Now that’s service! Showings are an affordable NZ$14 across the board.
Location: Corner of Customhouse Street and Childers Road.
6. Taste Cider at the Harvest Cidery
If you have spent a significant amount of time in New Zealand as a budgeting backpacker, then you’re likely to have heard of Harvest Cider. Their “Scrumpy” cider is usually an affordable option when partying with fellow backpackers. Their cidery is based right here in Gisborne and their taproom is open for tastings! Treat your taste buds to the sweet flavours of Harvest’s huge range of ciders. Once you have finished, go to the cidery viewing room upstairs to see all the action! What’s more, cider tastings are one of the free things to do in Gisborne.
Location: 91 Customhouse Street
7. Go Beer Tasting at the Sunshine Brewery
Gisborne’s Sunshine Brewery has been turning out delicious batch-brewed beer using natural ingredients since 1989, claiming the title of the second oldest independent brewery in New Zealand. Pick up one of their tasting trays for only NZ$15 (but be careful, they are not exactly “tasting” quantities) along with the quirky beer descriptions which are worth a read. There are also options to have an easy-going tour of the brewery too if you let the staff know you are interested.
Location: 49 Awapuni Road
8. Have Wine at the Gisborne Wine Centre
Yes, Gisborne does seem to dabble in making all its own alcoholic beverages. Taste some of the region’s finest wines in the beautiful setting of the Gisborne Harbour. It’s an affordable experience at NZ$5 a glass, but you can always amp up your experience with a guided tasting of the Gisborne Wine Regions highlights.
Location: 50 The Esplanade
9. Play Mini-golf “Gizzy” Style!
It’s a classic holiday game, right?! If you were even to do just one mini-golf in New Zealand, you have to do it in Gisborne! Hidden around the back of the Gisborne i-SITE is the most Kiwi-themed mini golf you will ever lay your eyes on. Put your golf ball over surf waves, through “freedom camping spots”, and into the East Cape Lighthouse. At just NZ$6 per person, why not have a round?!
Location: 209 Grey Street
10. Explore Wainui Beach and Headlands
For a full day’s on-foot adventure, make your way from Gisborne city to Wainui Beach via the Gisborne-Wainui Beach Cycle Track & Walkway. This takes about 40 minutes to reach the beautiful Wainui Beach. From Wainui Beach, walk to the old lighthouse on Tuahine Point or continue 3km along the sandy beach to the beginning of the walks over the Wainui-Makorori headland. More information on these walks are on 10 Gisborne Walks You Can’t Miss.
Location: Start from State Highway 35 from the city boundary opposite Watson Park.