With a population of around 35,000 and located on the north island, Gisborne exudes history at every turn. Maori for “Great standing place of Kiwa”, Kiwa was a leading figure aboard the Maori ancestral canoe, Takitimu, which ran aground in Gisborne around 1450 AD. After landing, Kiwa became a coastal guardian, eventually marrying Parawhenuamea, the keeper of the streams. View more
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Explore the abundant, diverse flora and bird species of New Zealand during this picturesque, half-day excursion to the spectacular Eastwoodhill Arboretum.
Gisborne, Eastwoodhill Arboretum
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 45-minute drive through idyllic farmland and expansive vineyards en route to the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, created by William Douglas Cook. Part of the National Arboretum of New Zealand Eastwoodhill is home to the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere flora in the Southern Hemisphere. This vast, 324-acre (about 131-hectare) flourishing garden and botanical collection complex boasts over 3,500 species of mature trees, shrubs and climbers from the Northern Hemisphere for nature lovers to view and photograph. One of the most popular attractions in the area, Eastwoodhill hosts more than 8,000 visitors a year.
Arboretum Walking Tour, Flora and Bird Species
Upon arrival, take a guided walking tour of the arboretum. Along the way, learn about the plants and their botanicals, and observe and learn about the birdlife drawn to the serenity of this environmental sanctuary. From the petite goldfinch to the protected, native kereru and stately Australian magpie, amateur ornithologists should bring their binoculars, as the bird sightings here are plentiful.
Homestead Garden, 4WD Tour, Discovery Centre
Next, take an approximately 30-minute stroll through the Homestead Garden and a 4WD tour, followed by light refreshments. Before departing, visit the Discovery Centre, which boasts both permanent and seasonal collections, and is the ideal place to learn more about the area's history and conservation efforts. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your coach and commence the approximately 45-minute drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking, at times over gravel, grassy and undulating surfaces, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and 20 steps at the Eastwoodhill Arboretum. This tour is not suitable for pregnant guests, guests with neck and/or back problems, guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable clothing with flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection and a weatherproof coat or jacket from the ship. Guests must be at least 4'10" (about 1.48 metres) tall to participate on this tour. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions; the 4WD tour portion takes place in an open-air vehicle, and does not operate in the rain. The tour sequence may vary. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Nestled on the most easterly tip of New Zealand's North Island, Gisborne's wine region is celebrated for classic Chardonnays. Recently, Gisborne has expanded beyond its reputation for mass production, and a number of small, quality producers have begun experimenting with new varieties and organic growing methods. Your half-day tour visits two family-owned businesses, shining examples of Gisborne's wine renaissance.
Depart the pier area with your driver-guide onboard a comfortable motor coach and set off through the verdant hills of Gisborne's wine region. Located in the Central Valley region of Gisborne, Bushmere Estate is a family-owned winery, growing grapes for over 40 years. This spectacular 42-acre vineyard primarily grows Chardonnay grapes, but smaller plantings of Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Montepulciano and Sangrovese can be found on the premises as well. In addition, the family owns part of a nearby vineyard where they source the grapes for their own full-bodied Merlot.
Wander the vineyard, the family estate, and the cellars as you learn about the family's venture into winemaking. At your tasting session, take a moment to admire the wine bottle's label; the logo depicts three elements - earth, water and sun, all vital to the growing of grapes. As you sip and savor, enjoy a delightful antipasto platter as an accompaniment.
Only a short, 15-minute drive away you will be introduced to Matawhero Wines, established in 1968 by Bill Irwin. It began by defying convention and made wines of boutique standing and international acclaim and in doing so, changed the face of New Zealand winemaking forever. Since its first vintage in 1975, Matawhero has produced many excellent and often adventurous wines. Following in Bill's pioneering footsteps, son Denis imparted his colourful style and won fame for his Gewürztraminer - everyone was drinking it, even the Queen of England. Today, revived by the Searle family, Matawhero is true to the founders' determination, producing individualistic wines of world class standard.
Learn more about the family's commitment to sustainable wine producing as you sample their varietals while nibbling on complimentary cheeses.
Your tour concludes with a relaxing drive through the scenery around Gisborne including two photo stops, one at Titirangi Hill, before returning to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking and is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Guests who are able to transfer from a chair would be able to participate. Walking at the wineries is on some unpaved surfaces and gravel paths and there are a few steps. We suggest wearing comfortable clothing and walking shoes and well as sun protection. Guests must be at least 18 years old to participate in tastings of alcoholic beverages. Order of tour may vary.
Experience the rustic beauty and charm of Gisborne City in a unique new way during this scenic and invigorating bicycle excursion.
Gisborne City, Bicycle Tour
Receive your safety briefing and bicycling instructions, don your safety helmet and high-visibility vest, and begin your guided, approximately 6.5-mile (about ten-kilometre) bicycling adventure through charming Gisborne, a beloved vacation town renowned for its rustic charm. Peddle your comfortable touring cycle through the well-maintained streets with your guide, taking in views of key city landmarks, historical sites and tranquil rivers. Light refreshments are served during the tour.
Captain Cook Monument, City Centre, Landmarks and Historical Sites, Poverty Bay, Three Rivers
Gisborne's residents boast their city is the first to see the sun each morning, but there's more than just the sunrise that makes Gisborne so special. The largest settlement in Eastland, Gisborne played an important part in the European history of New Zealand, for it was here in 1769 that Captain James Cook first set foot on New Zealand soil. A memorial to Cook stands on the foreshore, a monument seen during your ride. Your route is based on the city centre. Located at the north end of Poverty Bay, Gisborne is often called the 'City of Rivers' because three different rivers, one of them the country's shortest, all converge in the centre of town. See the rivers as you cycle part of the river trail. In addition, take in spectacular panoramic views of the bustling harbour and main beaches, Midway and Waikanae, both popular surfing hubs.
Waterfront, Cook's Landing Site
Next, your ride continues along the historic waterfront, the place where the first Maori explorers set foot in Aotearoa. See where legendary explorer Captain James Cook met with the Maori people almost 250 years ago. Maori culture is alive throughout Gisborne, and many old traditions are still evident in parts of the city.
Following a photo stop at the National Heritage Cook's Landing Site, commence the short ride back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of bicycling for approximately 6.5 miles (about ten kilometres), at times over uneven surfaces and curbs. This tour is recommended for guests who are in good physical condition and able to ride a bicycle for long distances at a steady pace. This tour is not recommended for pregnant guests, guests with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests with limited mobility, and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable clothing with flat, closed-toe walking or sport shoes, and bring sun protection, raingear, bottled water, a day pack, and windbreaker from the ship. Guests must be at least ten years old to participate on this tour. Bicycles, safety helmets, high-visibility vests and ponchos (in the event of rain) are provided; safety helmets and vests must be worn the entire time whilst bicycling. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. The tour sequence and timings may vary. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Discover the spectacular beauty and landmarks of Gisborne during this panoramic orientation drive.
Gisborne, Sightseeing Drive, Captain Cook Landing Spot
Depart the pier with your driver-guide for the scenic, approximately 1.5-hour sightseeing drive through sunny Gisborne, a pleasant way to spend the day taking in the best of the city's most popular attractions and coastal sights. New Zealand's most easterly city, Gisborne played an important role in European history, as it was here that Captain James Cook first set foot in New Zealand in 1769. A popular vacation destination, Gisborne is known for its rustic charms and picturesque scenery. The shores of Gisborne are legendary for their beauty and history. Drive past the spot where Captain Cook, the English explorer who discovered the area, first landed and met the native Maori people.
Marae, Titirangi Hill, Poverty Bay, Young Nick's Head, Wainui and Okitu Beaches, Lysnar Reserve
Next, travel up Titirangi (Kaiti) Hill for a photo stop. En route, pass by a stately Marae (Maori meeting-house), considered to be the largest in New Zealand. Upon reaching the top of Titirangi Hill, take in spectacular panoramic views over Poverty Bay and Young Nick's Head, the first piece of land sighted by James Cook's crew and named for the young lad who spotted it, as well as your anchored ship in the harbour. Continue along the shoreline to admire two of the area's premier beaches, Wainui and Okitu, which are renowned for their impressive waves and draw top surfers to their sands. After a photo stop at the sand dunes of the Lysnar Reserve, re-board your coach and head to Gisborne's idyllic rural area.
Orchards, Vineyards, Plains, Farmland, Grazing Sheep, Gladstone Road
Thirty percent of all wines produced in New Zealand come from this region. Drive along roads bordered by sweet-smelling orchards, award-winning vineyards and lush, fertile plains. In addition, see fields dotted with adorable fluffy sheep happily grazing beside quaint farmhouses. Returning to the city, drive down the main shopping street, the tree-lined Gladstone Road. Named after former British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, this boulevard houses boutiques, souvenir stores brimming with handcrafted gifts, surf shops and colourful outdoor cafes that are ideal for a bite to eat and people watching. Following your tour, you may opt to return directly to the pier, or remain in town for shopping and further exploration, and return to the ship on your own.
Please note: This tour involves a minimal amount of walking, at times over gravel surfaces, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility, but is not wheelchair-accessible. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable clothing with flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection and a weatherproof coat or jacket from the ship. The tour sequence may vary. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Experience this interactive reef tour that immerses you in the dynamic marine ecosystem that surrounds the waters of New Zealand's East Coast. Explore Tatapouri Bay, home to stingrays (whai), eagle rays and other reef dwellers, on this fascinating and educational tour.
Board a comfortable motor coach with your driver-guide and travel north along the Pacific Coast highway to your coastal destination, Tatapouri Bay, enjoying views of Wainui Beach along the way. Only 30-minutes away, you will find Dive Tatapouri, a family-owned operation. Be greeted warmly by the staff upon your arrival and be outfitted in waders (high-waisted waterproof pants) and then take to the water with your knowledgeable guide to explore Tatapouri Bay's fascinating reef at low tide.
Be led by your guide to the nearby rocky reef shelf, where they will attract the stingrays with food. It only takes a few handfuls of food and the stingrays will be right next to you. Keep a keen eye out for short-tail stingrays, eagle rays, octopus, conger eels, yellowtail kingfish and more. You'll be amazed at the grace and gentleness of these wild sting rays and eagle rays swimming in their natural environment. The experience is perfectly safe as a naturalist guide will be with you at all times.
Learn also about the rich marine life in this area, which has been harvested by the local Maori people for many hundreds of years.
At the completion of the day, light refreshments are served, and the naturalist will stay to speak with you further about the environment and about the Maori people and their settlements along the coastline.
Re-board your coach and relax on the scenic drive back to the pier area.
The departure of this tour is dependent on low tides.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking and is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Walking at the beach and into the water you may encounter uneven surfaces. You will be in shallow water, up to your waist for most guests, for the encounter. Approximately 250 metres (273 yards) of leisurely walking is required. We suggest wearing comfortable clothing and water shoes and well as sun protection. Bring a towel and bottled water with you from the ship. Guests must be 6 years of age to participate.
Just a short drive
Travel by mini-coach with your driver guide to an idyllic destination to experience the lives of a fourth-generation farming family. Your hosts, Graham, Anne, Caroline and Jo welcome you warmly as do the 3,000 sheep and 300 heads of cattle that call this pastoral paradise home. Your hosts are keen to answer any of your questions as they orient you to this lush, hilly property and show you around the 110-year-old homestead built from native New Zealand timber and surrounded by beautiful gardens.
An up-close encounter at the woolshed is an opportunity to observe a sheep shearing demonstration. Observe the remarkable dexterity and speed with which the shearers expertly and painlessly remove the long woolly coats of the animal. Sheep farming is a lead industry in this region and here you will learn the fascinating journey from sheep to bale and beyond.
Then it's on to the paddock to observe the shepherd muster a mob of sheep on horseback with their trusty farm dog assistants aiding in this process. Note how the highly trained "eye" dog doesn't bark but instead stares at the sheep to make them do exactly what he and the shepherd want.
After working up an appetite in the field, your hosts graciously invite you to a classic Kiwi home-baked smoko, a mid-morning break and light meal served to sheep shearers in New Zealand to tide them over between breakfast and lunch.
At the conclusion of the day, bid a fond farewell to your new friends and relax on your drive back to Gisborne.
Have the option of disembarking in the city centre to explore on your own before returning to the ship independently, or stay on the motor coach and return to port (time permitting).
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking and is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Walking at the farm is on some unpaved surfaces and loose stone areas plus there are 6 steps to enter/exit the woolshed. Approximately 50 metres (164 feet) of leisurely walking is the surface area covered. We suggest wearing comfortable clothing and walking shoes and well as sun protection. Order of tour may vary.