How to Visit Gisborne on a Budget
Gisborne: the first city in the world to see the sunrise and the first place where Europeans first set foot on New Zealand. With that, the city on the east coast of the North Island is certainly an interesting place to visit – more so on a budget when there are so many walks, historical attractions and foodie experiences to be had on the cheap. Admittedly, budget accommodation is scarce but not completely out of existence, so just follow the recommendations we list in this guide to Gisborne on a budget and you’ll be right.
Budget Tips for Gisborne
- Gisborne’s cheap accommodation is limited – very limited – so book early to avoid disappointment and having to pay more elsewhere
- Stay in self-catering accommodation so you can save money on food by making your own meals
- Visit in the low season (June to September) to see the best rates on accommodation and activities
- While there are lots of attractions to walk to in the city, you’ll need your own vehicle to visit highlights like the Rere Rockslide and Eastwoodhill Arboretum
- Gisborne has a public bus network worth looking into if you don’t have a car.
For more general money-saving tips, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Gisborne
Between cidery experiences to walks incorporating scenery and history, there are plenty of things to do in Gisborne that are absolutely free!
A good place to start when arriving in the city is taking the Town Beach Walkway. Not only will you soak in the views of the sandy Waikanae Beach and the white cliffs of Young Nicks Head, but you’ll also see important memorials to the early Maori and European settlers of New Zealand, such as the Captain Cook memorial to commemorate where Captain Cook first arrived in New Zealand. Learn more about the walk in the 10 Gisborne Walks You Can’t Miss.
Who doesn’t love a good view? Either drive or walk up to Gisborne’s best viewpoint, Kaiti Hill. The lookout can be found along Kaiti Beach Road. Continue to the Titirangi Domain to find a number of short walks.
If you’d rather stick to the city centre attractions, head to the Harvest Cidery. Here, try some of New Zealand’s most popular ciders and even watch the cider-makers at work from the viewing room upstairs.
For more ideas, simply head to the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Gisborne.
Cheap Activities in Gisborne
For just a few dollars, there are more attractions to enjoy in Gisborne. A must-do is the Tairawhiti Museum, costing only around NZ$5 per adult and free for children. Learn about the engrossing history of the local Maori through various exhibitions, see the story of the first Europeans to land in Poverty Bay through displays, and enjoy a few interesting extras like a wheelhouse of a salvaged ship and the oldest-surviving European house in Gisborne.
One of the strangely hilarious things to do in Gisborne is play mini golf. The Gisborne i-SITE mini golf is a hoot, with 18 holes of “Gizzy” fun with themes from freedom camping to putting into the famous East Cape Lighthouse. Costing less than NZ$10, you can’t complain!
And if you have a spare evening in Gisborne, make sure you spend it at the Dome Cinema. One of the most unique boutique arthouse cinemas in the country, the experience begins with being tucked into your oversized beanbag with a blanket and delivered pizza and wine during the movie.
Again, more suggestions can be found in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Gisborne.
Cheap Eats in Gisborne
One thing Gisborne certainly isn’t lacking is cheap eats! From cafes pouring New Zealand-roasted coffee to international favourites, the choice in Gisborne is vast and varied. Let’s get started with the Peel St Cafe (28 Peel Street) which sells monstrous sandwiches, wraps and the usual cafe treats for a fair price. Raglan Roast Gizzy (116 Wainui Road) is a must for NZ-made coffee, while That Hangi Place (420 Gladstone Road) is where you can give Maori food, and especially fried bread, a try.
Other popular cheap restaurants in Gisborne include Sofra Turkish Cafe (206 Gladstone Road) for super tasty Mediterranean cuisine. Neighbourhood Pizzeria (9 Ballance Street) does freshly-cooked pizza that you can enjoy along the riverside.
For more food recommendations, take a look at The Foodie Guide to Gisborne.