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WorldNew ZealandGisborne
Port of Entry
45°6.26′S, 170°58.76′E Chart icon.png

On the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, south of East Cape and 120nm north of Napier lies Gisborne, a small coastal city. Gisborne provides a quiet haven and an ideal point to stop for a night on your way to/from Wellington. The locality is famous for being the first point of New Zealand seen on Capt. James Cook's first voyage of discovery.

Cruising the region

This is a stop over point, an isolated and pretty city of about 35,000, Gisborne is well worth a visit. The marina/boat harbour is actually within the central business district.


Land Information NZ
NZ55 Cape Runaway to Table Cape (1:200000)
NZ5551 Plans on the East Coast (North Island (1:40000)
NZ5613 Poverty Bay and Approaches to Gisborne (1:24000)


See New Zealand

Gisborne is in the Portland weather zone.

Sources for Weather forecasts:


To continue a southward journey, for most cruisers, you'll need at least a one day weather window to get to Napier (3-4 days to go directly to Wellington). There are no stops till Napier and you'll want to travel in a northerly. Nor are there any stops between Napier and Wellington.

The scenery is excellent and interesting, but apart from a few villages the coast is bleak with few people. DO NOT attempt a transit between Portland Island off the southern tip of the Mahia Peninsula. Most vessels cut straight across Hawkes Bay from the southern end of Portland Island direct to Napier (if you plan to stop there) or towards Cape Kidnappers (very prominent on a clear day) if the plan is further south to Wellington.

Continuing a passage north, you're likely to be be going around around East Cape to either Tauranga or Auckland. The Cape is at least a 10 hour trip from Gisborne, running with a southerly and if it gets rough (and it often does in this part of the coast) there are several safe places you can ride it out. Check the chart and you'll see there are several sheltered bays to the north of Gisborne. But beware that it's easy to be trapped in any of bays with an onshore gale for several days waiting for the wind to change. There's a transit with plenty of water between East Cape and East Island (Whangaokeno), but in rough weather perhaps best to go the long way round the island.

If heading north with some time to spare, a sail past White Island can be dramatic. White Island is an active volcanoe situated about 30 miles north of the Whakatane township.


  • Portland Island about 15 nm south
  • East Island off East Cape 50 nm north


See New Zealand

Also see World Cruiser's Nets

Gisborne Harbour Control monitors VHF 16.


Entering Gisborne Harbour/Marina is better done in daylight and ideally with the chart. The route is dredged and well marked but at night, channel lights, with the city lights in the background, can be confusing. You sail in towards the beach getting closer and closer to the breakers, until finally the markers open and you turn 90° to follow the channel (very disconcerting on your first visit) that soon becomes a river. Don't hesitate to contact Gisborne Harbour control on channel 16 for help. If possible it's a good idea to follow another boat in.

Warning: the beach mentioned above is a lee shore in any variant of NE thru S and can have big swell waves. Also it is a wonderful sandy beach and so a very popular spot for surfing. When the swell is strong it surges right up into the harbour.

Gisborne Marina and small boat harbour is about 300 metres up a river. As you enter you'll pass (on your starboard) a large ship dock.

As with all New Zealand ports, lights and markers are carefully maintained and can be relied on to operate.


Customs clearance is available at Gisborne but Customs' Officers travel up from Napier as required (a 3 hour drive), so raising a Q flag is a waste of time. Always give at least 24 hours notice by radio. Customs use an old grey barge at the entrance to the marina for the formalities and you'll be asked to berth against it.


Marinas & Yacht Clubs

There's a single marina/small boat harbour called Eastland Port Marina at Gisborne. With only 70 odd berths it is very small, but offers a full range of services. But you'll need to call ahead to ensure a reservation (here are NO visitors berths). Call Harbour Control up on Ch 16. Short term charges are relatively expensive compared to other NZ marinas.

Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club

Found right alongside the marina, the fishing club is basically a large and popular pub. They offer a temporary membership for about $15 that covers all crew members. As well as the usual cafe/bar services the club has wonderful showers, and WIFI.


You can anchor in Poverty Bay, although it can be very very rolly in an Easterly swell. Boats also anchor just inside the entrance to the harbour channel on the left of the breakwater (opposite the large ship berth).

Yacht Repairs and Services

Marine Stores

Mostly tailoring to fishing, there is a reasonable range of shops for the small boat.


Several small workshops and repair yards. As a rule you'll find these guys innovative and willing to tackle any problem. Appreciate that most locals will regard a visiting cruiser as being very wealthy and so may not be especially concerned about taking a few extra hours or days on your project. So you really need to manage any work you need done.

Operated by Eastland Marine Travel Lift Ltd, a yard alongside the marina has a 50 tonne travel lift and hard stand area. Contact Slipmaster on (07) 862 7784 or 027 443 7493 or the Yard Manager on (07) 868 8384 or 027 350 3058.

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

There are several service stations offering diesel, petrol and LPG within walking distance. The marina also has diesel.
The tap water is clean, free and drinkable, with taps all around the marina, but you'll need to supply your own hose.
240 volt (both single and 3-phase) but, as above, supply your own cable.

Things to do Ashore

Cruisers, as a rule will only be in Gisborne for a night or two. It's a small city servicing a wide agricultural area, and there is certainly much to do and see. The marina is situated right in the midst of the central business district and so much is within walking district. Start at the Tourist Information Centre (I-Site) at 209 Grey Street (10 minute walk from marina) where you'll find all manner of tourist promotions, day trips and activities.

Due perhaps to its isolation, Gisborne is very much like walking back into the past and probably best represents New Zealand as it was 2 or 3 decades ago. And people, machines, animals there all work on 'Gissy time'. Albert Einstein never visited Gisborne and so never factored Gissy time into his equations, but Gissy time runs slower than everywhere else in the Universe.

The main streets are attractive, safe and clean, with 'courtesy crossings' for pedestrians crossing the wide streets (the streets are actually so wide that when crossing it's helpful to have drinks and snacks if walking with children as you'll all need to take a rest between traffic lanes). Graffiti free, lined with palm trees, and interesting statues walking around Gisborne is a real pleasure. The walk across the old railway bridge right beside the marina is a must!

Grocery & Supply Stores

Many within walking distance of the marina.


The marina itself is the centre to many of the better bars, cafes and restaurants.


Available at some bars and cafes. Also see Internet in New Zealand.


There are self operated laundries within short distances (do google search). The laundries are mostly 'key' service and so are available 24 hours. You purchase a key from an adjacent shop/business (clearly displayed in the windows), and so you'll need to visit that business during business hours to buy your key.

Typically they'll also sell some incredibly overpriced washing powder so it's best to travel with a supply on the boat.

Bike & Car Rentals

Several firms within walking distance of the marina offer a range of rental cars. be aware that it's very difficult to rent a car for a one way hire.

Push and electric bikes are available for rent from several bike stores.

Garbage Disposal

Dumpsters at the marina, along with oil recycling tank.


Gisborne is relatively isolated, this problem was compounded when the railway line was washed away in 2012 and with the Govt's decision that it wont be repaired.

The city is located on state highway (SH) 2 linking Gisborne to Napier (215 k's south), and Opotiki 145 k's north. Don't be fooled that these roads form a portion of SH 2, this is outback New Zealand. And whilst both roads are fully tar sealed, and picturesque, they are narrow and often follow beside rivers in steep gullies. The trip to Opotiki is even worse, although picture perfect during daylight.

Bus services north (through Opotiki to Rotorua) and south to Napier are provided by two rival national companies; Inter City and Naked Bus. At Rotorua and Napier connections allow transit to anywhere in NZ. All services leave from the Information Centre (I-Site) at 209 Grey Street and tickets can also be bought here. Be aware that most services leave before the I-Site is open so either buy ticket online or the previous day.

If driving, in either direction, ensure the vehicle's fuel tank is full at Gisborne.

The small airport provides (very expensive) daily flights to/from Auckland, with less frequent flights to other cities.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



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