ROTORUA – GISBORNE (via Whakatane & Opotiki)

Driver Information
New Zealand ItinerariesTravel distance is approximately 287kms (179 miles).
Allow at least 3.6 hours drive time (not including stops).

From mud baths to mountain biking, ski-ing to fresh water fishing, no doubt you have enjoyed a fabulous mini-break in unique Rotorua and looking forward to spending the afternoon and evening in New Zealand’s sunniest town, Gisborne.

Wine lovers should start to get excited as Gisborne is part of New Zealand’s largest grape growing regions and is home to the internationally acclaimed New Zealand chardonnay.

Some notable stops along the route to Gisborne include:

25 minutes drive from Rotorua finds this delightful wilderness lake. Take a refreshing lake-side stroll. It is possible to fish the lake, however you will require a boat for best results.

New Zealand ItinerariesA popular lake for boating and another place to enjoy a picnic lunch or a ‘drive reviver’ leg stretch!

Located in a relaxing park-like setting, the thermal mineral hot spring pools are heated to between 37-39 degrees Celsius. Selection of pools available, including large hot pool, children and toddler pools and private spas.

The gateway to the East Cape, Whakatane is steeped in history and Maori culture. This attractive coastal town enjoys a vibrant cafe and restaurant scene, making it a great place to plan a lunch break on your journey. There is also some excellent shops for a spot of retail therapy.

If you stop in Whakatane and have time, a visit to White Island is well worth the detour as this is one of the world’s few accessible live volcanoes! Accessed via boat or flight off the shores of Whakatane, enjoy a scenic flight or take a guided eco-tour. A stunning visual display of roaring steam vents, craters and sulphur-lipped fumaroles.

New Zealand ItinerariesJust 6km’s over the hill from Whakatane, this popular holiday spot features 11 kilometres of golden Pacific sand and safe swimming waters.

Take a walk along the longest pier in New Zealand!

Welcome to the first city in the world to see the sun each day! This delightful East Coast town can also claim to be one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, which is probably why the area is one of New Zealand’s largest grape growing regions with a staggering amount of vineyards planted in Chardonnay. We are sure you will experience an enjoyable nights stay in this popular East Coast town.

Highly recommended Gisborne tourist attractions include…

Tairawhiti Museum – An award winning museum and art gallery with an ever-changing selection of exhibits and displays including the popular Kahurangi exhibition, which is based on objects selected from the museum’s Maori Collection.

Wine Trail Tour – Visit the Information Centre and arrange a wine trail. There is an excellent selection of tour operators offer specialised winery tours, with most tours including wine tastings and lunch at a specific winery.

Wainui Surf School – Let’s go surfing! Learn to surf with a group or enjoy a private lesson with an experienced surf instructor on a beautiful Gisborne beach break. Lessons include surf board, boogie board and wet suit hire. Surf tours also available.

Morere Hot Springs – Public and private thermal pools in a beautiful bush setting plus bush walks. A great place to experience beautiful mineral pools in a unique, spectacular setting.

WA165 Steam Train Trip – Built in 1897 in the Dunedin railway workshops, the Steam Locomotive WA165 has been resorted and is the only surviving WA Class Locomotive in New Zealand. Running from the Gisborne Train Station out to Muriwai and back, this is one of the most famous and scenic rail rides in the country.

Gisborne visitors can enjoy the vibrant and fun nightlight on offer, along with a great choice of restaurants and cafes to suit most budgets and tastes, including a restaurant with a DC3 aeroplane in the roof!

Gisborne also has a wonderful range of accommodation options for your overnight stay.
New Zealand Itineraries: North Island Suggested Itineraries

Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!

  • 5 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 6 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua and Rotorua – Auckland
  • 6 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Dargaville, Dargaville – Kaitaia, Kaitaia – Paihia, Paihia – Whangarei and Whangarei – Auckland
  • 7 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Napier and Napier – Wellington
  • 8 Day Itinerary: Wellington, Wellington – Masterton, Masterton – Wellington, Wellington – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim and Blenheim – Christchurch
  • 9 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier – Taupo, Taupo – Rotorua, Rotorua – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Whangarei, Whangarei – Paihia, Paihia – Hokianga, Hokianga – Auckland, Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 11 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier Taupo Napier, Napier – Wellington, Wellington – New Plymouth, New Plymouth – Waitomo and Waitomo Caves – Auckland