A Family Guide to Gisborne
Get off the beaten track and go east to the sunny region of Gisborne! For families seeking a slice of authentic New Zealand, this is it, with breathtaking kid-friendly beaches, easy ways to enjoy the great outdoors, and educational museums. Discover the place where the Europeans first set foot on New Zealand, while the Maori culture can be dived into at the local museum or as a genuine addition at the local stingray-feeding activity. In between, stay in beachside holiday parks and motels with plenty of room for the whole family.
Explore more of the family activities and accommodations in this travel guide to Gisborne for families.
Things to Do in Gisborne with Kids
- Meet and feed the stingrays at Dive Tatapouri
- Ride the Gisborne City Vintage Railway
- Race down the Rere Rockslide
- Play a round of Gisborne-themed mini golf
- Explore the Eastwoodhill Arboretum
- Build sandcastles, swim and surf at Waikanae Beach
- Go horse riding in Gisborne’s countryside
- Have a splash at Morere Hot Springs
- Learn about Gisborne’s history and culture at the Tairawhiti Museum.
For more information on each experience, check out the 10 Things to Do in Gisborne with Kids.
Family Adventure Activities
Gisborne allows families to connect with nature, connect with each other, and learn something new. Some of the top family-friendly adventures in the great outdoors include the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Dive Tatapouri, Riverview Treks and more!
A great place to let the kids roam while enjoying the beautiful surroundings for yourself is the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, the largest arboretum in New Zealand. It’s the largest collection of exotic trees in the country, which families can enjoy along the well-signposted “Blue Walks” that are flat and easy for the whole family. Look out for native birds like tui, wood pigeons and fantails, and learn more about them at the Visitor Centre.
Meet Tamariki of Tangaroa, the Children of the Maori God of the Sea, on an exciting ray-feeding tour with Dive Tatapouri. See just how gentle New Zealand’s stingrays and eagle rays are on their reef ecology tour where you’ll meet the reef inhabitants and even pet them as they swim up to you. People of all ages can enjoy this tour, as children can be pulled out onto the reef on a banana boat.
If the little ones are ready for their first horse trek, then take them with Riverview Treks. They specialise in family-friendly adventures to suit all abilities, whether you’ve cantered before or are a total beginner. Located in Te Karaka along the Waipaoa River, the terrain of gentle stream crossings and surrounding bush is fun to ride. Alternatively, Waikereru Horse Riding Adventures offers full-day packages to make the most of the rural, native bush rides alongside the Waimata River.
For more outdoor adventures, including surfing and New Zealand’s best mini golf, check out the 10 Things to Do in Gisborne with Kids.
All-weather Family Activities
If you find yourselves in Gisborne when the weather isn’t playing nice, don’t worry! There are some fun and educational experiences to be had, starting with the Tairawhiti Museum. Tairawhiti is the Maori name for Gisborne, and the museum is where you can learn more about the local culture and history through interesting relics and displays. Climb up into the wheelhouse of the Star of Canada that was salvaged from Gisborne’s shores, visit the oldest European house in Gisborne and much more.
Kids love riding the Gisborne City Vintage Railway, a ride in the carriages pulled by a Wa165 steam locomotive. Ride through Gisborne, over the 329m (1,080ft) Waipaoa River bridge and even over an operating airport runway on this family-friendly tour which takes place on weekends in summer and on holiday weekends.
Check out more activities like these in the 10 Things to Do in Gisborne on a Rainy Day.
Free Family Activities
Keep a family trip to Gisborne affordable with some of the free things to do, such as relaxing on Waikanae Beach! The main beach of Gisborne is a long stretch of golden sand with a stroller-friendly boardwalk running alongside it. The waters are shallow with a sandy bottom, making it safe for swimming, while simply building sandcastles is another way to enjoy your time here with the little ones.
For families with kids who have a lot of energy to burn, buy a cheap bodyboard or inflatable mattress from The Warehouse and head to the Rere Rockslide. This natural waterslide could well be the happiest place in New Zealand, where kids race each other down the flat rock to the pool at the bottom. It’s so fun, you’ll want to try it out too. When you’re done, take a picnic to the neighbouring Rere Waterfall for a scenic place to enjoy lunch.
For more ideas, head to the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Gisborne.