Ace Rental Cars Blog

Whakatane to Gisborne Coastal Road Trip

A picturesque road trip from Whakatāne to Gisborne offers travellers glimpses of natural wonders, cultural treasures, and unique attractions along the East Coast. The journey takes you through charming towns and coastal paradises, and we’ve listed the best spots along the way.

  • Ōpōtiki
  • Wharekahika / Hicks Bay
  • Maunga Hikurangi
  • Rere Rockslide

Whakatāne to Ōpōtiki

  • Te Ana o Muriwai (Muriwai’s Cave)
  • Kohi Point Lookout
  • Ōpōtiki Museum
  • Tirohanga Dunes Trail

Welcome to Whakatāne, the Sunshine Capital of Aotearoa / New Zealand. A beautiful town nestled on the banks of the Whakatāne River; this town is often referred to as the gem of the Bay of Plenty. Start your holiday here with breakfast at The Corner Kitchen. Grab a hot pie or sandwich to take away before enjoying your meal from the Kohi Point Lookout. Here, you’ll get a scenic view of the town and the coastline, with Moutohora / Whale Island in the distance. After breakfast with a view, discover history at Te Ana o Muriwai (Muriwai’s Cave) and admire The Lady on the Rock statue at Whakatāne Heads. After exploring the town, jump in your Ace rental car for a short drive to Ōhope Beach. Stroll along the pure white sands, lay out a towel or watch the native water birds’ parade around the shore. From here, it’s a 30-minute drive to the town of Ōpōtiki. In town, head to the Ōpōtiki Museum to discover local history and admire the collection of vintage wares, vehicles, and photographs. If you want to go for a walk, the Tirohanga Dunes Trail is the perfect place to reflect on and embrace your coastal holiday. The gentle four-hour return walk on the coastline boasts views of the Pacific Ocean, Whakaari / White Island, and the East Cape.

Ōmāio Bay to Hicks Bay

  • Ōmāio Bay Marae
  • Te Kaha
  • Anglican Church of Raukokore
  • Waihirere Falls

Continuing along the coast, you’ll come across small coastal towns with unique attractions. We’ve listed the best places to pause, stretch your legs and soak in the experience as you journey towards Tairāwhiti / Gisborne. About 45 minutes from Ōpōtiki, Ōmāio Bay is well worth a visit to pause and take in the views of the beautiful blue ocean. If stopping here, there are three Marae - traditional Māori meeting places - each with its own unique charm. The Ōmāio Marae, Ōtūwhare Marae and Whitianga Marae feature intricate carvings, and you can take a moment to learn about their sacred meanings - but do not enter the private area unless invited. Next on your East Coast Road trip, Te Kaha is a popular spot for swimming and fishing on your way to one of the region’s most visited landmarks - the Anglican Church of Raukokore. This stunning church attracts tourists travelling through the area, with many stopping to take photos of the unique architecture. Next, on your journey to Wharekahika / Hicks Bay, you'll cross over into the Gisborne region. Park your rental car at Waihirere Falls and take in the astonishing views of the cascading waterfalls. In the town of Wharekahika, make a pit stop at the Hicks Bay General Store to stock up on food and grab a coffee before deciding whether to continue your journey or stay overnight and travel to Gisborne in the morning.

Tikitiki to Tokomaru Bay

  • St Mary’s Church
  • Maunga Hikurangi
  • Te Puia Springs
  • Tokomaru Bay

Stop by St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki to admire one of Aotearoa / New Zealand’s finest Māori churches. With tukutuku / woven panels and a beautiful interior, it’s well worth stepping inside and appreciating the effort that went into creating the stunning memorial church. Just south of Tikitiki in Ruatoria, you’ll see the highest non-volcanic peak on the North Island - Maunga Hikurangi. If you want to get closer to the magnificent mountain, tours depart from Ruatoria, bringing you on a journey to the 1,752-metre-high mountain. It wouldn’t be a New Zealand Road trip without a visit to the hot springs, and the Te Puia Springs Hotel is the perfect place to relax and soak when staying in the area. Guests can enjoy the mineral pools, head out on a winery tour or discover Māori cultural sites. If you’re just passing through, stop by the Te Puia General Store for a coffee and a snack. Just before you reach Gisborne, pause for one last stop at Tokomaru Bay. The wharf is a popular spot for fishing, and the Te Puka Tavern is the best place to enjoy a meal.

Gisborne and the Rere Rockslide

  • The Vines at Bushmere Estate
  • Sunshine Brewing
  • Tairāwhiti Museum
  • Rere Rockslide

As your road trip ends in Tairāwhiti / Gisborne, it’s time to wind down with a visit to a winery or brewery. Chardonnay is the local specialty, and you can indulge in a tasting along with a cheese platter at The Vines at Bushmere Estate. Or, if you prefer a cold, craft beer, discover the taste of Gisborne Gold at New Zealand’s oldest independent brewery - Sunshine Brewing. Remember to assign a designated driver when indulging in beer or wine on your road trip. Also in town, you’ll find the Tairāwhiti Museum which focuses on Māori history across nine galleries. If you want to head out on one last adventure before wrapping up your time in Gisborne, drive to the Rere Rockslide. Here, kids and adults can slip and slide down the natural waterslide and enjoy the exhilarating feeling of the refreshing water rushing beneath them, creating moments to remember.

From Whakatāne to Gisborne, a journey along the North Island’s East Coast promises fun under the sun, cultural experiences, and unforgettable memories.

Related Posts:

cost of render: 0.013967990875244 cached: true