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Tairāwhiti is brimming with walking trails

You can explore anything from sparkling coastal trails to hidden coves, lush bush walks, lofty peaks and historic places – and there’s something for all fitness levels. We’ve put together a list of options for Gisborne walks and further afield, so dig out your walking shoes and experience the incredible diversity of walks we have here in Tairāwhiti.

 

Tupapa Heritage Trail, Gisborne

This is a great walk to discover the history of Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa, Gisborne – learn about historic events and see beautiful artworks acknowledging tīpuna. The easy 4km self-guided walking tour passes by 10 tour markers that guide you from the city up to the Titirangi Reserve. The best place to begin is at the Introduction point near the Waikanae Creek. You can download the app for a richer experience along the way too.

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Cooks Cove Walkway, Uawa/Tolaga Bay

History, farmland, and a swim all in one! Just 52km north of Gisborne along SH35, Cooks Cove (Opoutama) was where Captain James Cook stopped in 1769 when he was circumnavigating New Zealand. The walk winds through farmland, light bush, has an impressive lookout point, and the cove itself is very safe for swimming. There are  information panels along the way to learn about the history of local iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti and the excavation of an archaeological site at Opoutama first occupied by Māori. It takes about 2.5 hours to walk there and back and requires a medium level of fitness to climb back up the hill.

 

East Cape Lighthouse, East Cape 

The iconic East Cape Lighthouse makes the 700-step trek up to the lighthouse worth it – it’s the most easterly lighthouse in the world and the views out over the ocean are incredible! A 22km, mostly unsealed road from Te Araroa will take you there; make sure you take in the beautiful sandy beaches along the way.

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Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Ngātapa

Eastwoodhill Arboretum is a gorgeous, sprawling wonderland of trees; kind of like an ark, trees from all around the world have been planted here on over 131 hectares, since 1910. This makes for some beautiful walks. There are trails that are easy and flat, and strenuous ones that reward you with lookouts. Some of the trees are planted into spaces and parks so pick your vibe - would you prefer Orchard Hill, with cherries and magnolia, or Douglas Park for marvellous oaks; or Mexico Way for trees from Central and Southern America? Or would you prefer the herbarium or even the Fibonacci spiral? Why not explore the lot – pack a picnic and enjoy a day out in New Zealand’s National Arboretum.

 

Titirangi/Kaiti Hill Walks and Lookout, Gisborne 

Titirangi Reserve/Kaiti Hill is a very important historic site. It used to be a pā, and the base of it is where Captain Cook and his crew first came ashore in Aotearoa New Zealand. Today, this 35-hectare reserve has a whole range of activities for walkers - there are four lookout points over Gisborne and the Pacific Ocean with Mahia Peninsula in the distance; there’s a WWII gun emplacement, a playground, a fitness course and loads of places for picnicking.

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Anaura Bay Walkway, Anaura Bay

One of the most beautiful places in the country must surely be the long, sandy picture-perfect beach paradise of Anaura Bay, just over 80km north of Gisborne along SH35. The 2-hour loop track of Anaura Bay Walkway lets you take it all in. The trail begins next to a stream and winds up through young coastal forest and farmland to a ridge saddle where there are amazing views of the bay, Motuoroi Island and the coastline can be had. The rest of the loop takes you down through pine forest, along a stream (you will wade ankle-deep to cross) and back through native bush.

 

Tauranga Bridge Loop Track, Waioeka Gorge

Refresh yourself on a drive through the Waioeka Gorge by stopping to walk this beautiful loop trail. The beginning of the track is near the Tauranga Historic Bridge, about 28km from Ōpōtiki on SH2. The tracks explore the magical Tauranga Valley, which in the early 1900s was a farming settlement. The high rainfall, frosts, isolation and steep land made it difficult to farm here, so the families eventually gave up – the only remains are the odd fence post and of course the bridge over the Waioeka, which was restored for walkers in 1995. There are a couple of stream crossings so be warned, you will get wet feet! If you prefer to stay dry, just turn around and walk back the way you came.

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Haurata High Country Walks, Matawai 

There’s nothing like the rugged Gisborne back country: at Haurata High Country Retreat you can explore this unique landscape to your heart’s content. A biologically-farmed, locally-owned station about 65km from Gisborne along SH2, this place offers stunning high country and mountain views, pastoral landscape, trails winding through native bush, giant boulders, a river with eels and swimming holes, and tonnes of birdsong and fresh mountain air. The owners offer guided day walks, as well as overnight accommodation and the chance to experience a working farm.

 

Te Ara ki Hikurangi, Ruatoria

Mount Hikurangi is Ngati Porou’s sacred mountain, and the highest non-volcanic peak in the North Island. Summitting this mountain is somewhat of an expedition – it’s 4-5 hours to the hut, and a further 2-3 hours to the summit, with the last 400m being steep and unstable scree. It’s not for the inexperienced walker: backcountry navigation and survival skills are a must, as is warm clothing. Please note you need to contact Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, the landowners, for permission before you walk the track – and that sometimes the track may be closed for farming or cultural reasons. For those wanting a different experience of the mountain, Maunga Hikurangi Te Urunga Sunrise Experience is less demanding, and an unforgettable way to greet the dawn. You’ll ride in a 4WD by starlight to the site of nine huge carved pillars (whakairo), and learn the stories with a local guide.

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Makorori Hill Walk and Lookout, Wainui

This walk over headlands is 30 minutes return and gives you the most incredible sweeping views of the two surf beaches of Makorori and Wainui, as well south to Te Kurī-a-Pāoa (Young Nick’s Head) and Mahia Peninsula. You can also walk along the highway for 5 minutes to check out the Okitu Bush Scenic Reserve which lies between the two beaches. The start of this track is at the Wainui base of the headland.

 

The diversity of walks in Tairāwhiti really is a gift: choose your preferred option, don’t forget to tell someone where you are going, take water and a snack, and most importantly enjoy yourself!

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