The city of Gisborne from Kaiti Hill. © kershawj

Loved by the locals: Gisborne


AA Members can save 10% on selected accommodation.

Start looking

From coastal walkways to historic railways, boutique cinemas and famous vineyards, we've picked five things that locals love to do in Gisborne. 

1. Dome Cinema and Bar Restaurant

Squishy bean bags and old leather sofas provide a delightfully-eclectic mix of modern, chic, casual and old elegance at the Dome Cinema and Bar Restaurant. Recently rated one of the 10 coolest dine-in cinemas in the world by Jetsetter magazine, it was the only one selected in Australasia. The Dome, described as 'a funky 1920s speakeasy', joins Cinema Studio 28 in Paris and The Montpelier’s Backroom Cinema in London on the exclusive list.

I'm not going to lie, I am extremely happy in Gisborne.

A post shared by Eleanor Strathern (@eleanorvictoria280) on Aug 2, 2017 at 10:41pm PDT

2. Millton Vineyards and Winery

James and Annie Millton established Millton Vineyards and Winery in 1984. A small family artisan winegrower, Millton’s was the first producer in New Zealand to achieve Bio-Gro certification for organic wine production in 1989 and gained the biodynamic certification Demeter in 2009. This involves growing grapes without the use of herbicide, insecticide, systemic fungicides or soluble fertilisers. It also incorporates the use of herbal, mineral and animal preparations, as well as a deep understanding of the ‘complex cosmic rhythms’ which affect these daily activities.

Millton Vineyards and Winery are members of international biodynamic group La Renaissance des Appellations and the New Zealand collaboration The Family of Twelve.

Millton’s wines are enjoyed all around the world but much of their international acclaim is for their chenin blanc, arguably one of the finest produced outside of the Loire Valley. 

3. USSCo Bar & Bistro

We eat so well at home and at each other’s houses, it takes a lot to drag us out to a restaurant but for USSCo Bar & Bistro, we make an exception.

Located in a historic former shipping company building near the inner harbour, USSCo offers simple, seasonal and exceptionally-tasty food in a cosy, relaxed environment.

Award-winning owner and head chef Thomas Boyce updates the menu daily according to seasonal availability, using locally-sourced produce, meat and seafood wherever possible. USSCo Bar & Bistro is a regular winner in Cuisine magazine’s Good Food Guide and the establishment was also included in The Great New Zealand Cookbook. Everything on the menu is superb but the roasted duck with fondant kumara and rocket with yoghurt dressing is divine.

4. WA 165

Several times a year, the Gisborne City Vintage Railway take their pride and joy, Wa 165, out of the shed for a run. Built in Dunedin’s Hillside Workshops in 1897, the steam train is the only remaining Wa class engine in New Zealand. International cruise ship passengers go ga-ga over the fact the train pulls up at the wharf and puffs its way across a harbour bridge and the airport runway to a powhiri at a local primary school. There’s also an option to visit an organic winery en route.

Not sure if we are heading to Muriwai or Hogwarts.... #gisbornevintagerailway #feralvilliansonholiday

A post shared by Rach Robinson (@fiziorach) on Dec 28, 2015 at 9:34pm PST

5. Oneroa walkway

Accessible to all, the Oneroa Cycle and Walkway linking Waikanae Beach to Midway Beach is incredibly popular with visitors and locals alike. Since opening in August 2015, there’s been a steady stream of walkers, pushchairs, wheelchairs, trikes, cycles, scooters and walking frames trundling up and down the beachfront board and concrete path.

It’s just as well the path is flat and wide because there are many distractions – surfers and paddle boarders catching the perfect wave, children building sandcastles, ships coming into port, competitions at the tennis courts, the sheers cliffs of Young Nick’s Head stark white against the blue-green sea and sunrises and sunsets to take your breath away. 

Explore more...

while you're here

Find out more

Road trips

Gisborne to Wellington: sampling the finer things in life

Experience hot pools, beaches, art, culture, heritage and wildife on a road trip from Gisborne to Wellington.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Gisborne: close to heaven

Gisborne has what the rest of the world has lost ... or is looking for. Space, peace, quality of life and an awareness among the people who live here that they share a secret, a precious key to nirvana.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Take to the rails on a Gisborne Railbike Adventure

Just outside Gisborne you can cruise along a coastal railway line – by bike.  Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now