Information for this trail was last updated February 2024

Horses are common throughout the rural areas of te Tairāwhiti. Many people ride, especially those with a rural connection, and for the coastal towns horse riding can be the mode of transport.

At Te Karaka, a local club offers riding lessons and treks Link to Riverview Treks and Pinehollow Riding School and Gisborne also has a Riding For The Disabled facility. Link to Riding for the Disabled Assn.

Beaches around the coast are the most popular places to ride. Near Gisborne, these are Wainui Beach, Makorori Beach, and the beach west of Midway Beach towards the mouth of the Waipaoa River (Kōputūtea Beach). Riding horses is not allowed on Waikanae and Midway beaches, along the Oneroa and City Rivers shared paths, or the Coastal Waipaoa River Trail. Horses can be startled by people and especially bicycles, so riding in these places could be dangerous. 

Horse treks are organised by local riding and hunt clubs throughout New Zealand. To find out about these, check Link to Horse Treks Noticeboard NZ  Mike Raroa runs AKAU Treks at Tokomaru Bay Link to AKAU Treks

Horse treks usually follow farm tracks over private land, the trek organiser having gained permission. Sometimes these treks follow unformed legal roads or forestry roads. Suitable trekking routes include Paritu Mahanga Road, and the forestry roads within Waimanu Forest between Mander and Riverside Roads. In both these examples permission must be obtained from the forest managers. Other unformed legal roads also offer opportunities, but permission should be obtained from adjacent landowners of private land. Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa (Walking Access New Zealand) has a map of public access, including unformed legal roads Link to Herenga ā Nuku unformed legal roads, in their map system Link to Herenga ā Nuku Map System 

Cover photo by Liam Clayton, The Gisborne Herald, April 2023.

History of the trail

In rural Māori communities, such as Tairāwhiti coastal townships, Māori commonly used horses for transport in the 20th century. Even in the early 21st century, it is not unusual to see children riding horses to school (sometimes with two or three children on the horse) and leaving the horse in the school paddock to graze for the day.

More commonly, horses are used for stock work on farms and are ridden on farms and beaches for recreation. Horse sports, especially the Tolaga Bay Beach Races, held annually at the end of December at Kaiaua Beach, are a highlight for the communities of the East Coast.

Tips & Logistics

Safety rules for horse riders Link to Waka Kotahi NZTA

Keep your horse on the side of the road whenever you can, but don't ride on footpaths, lawns or gardens. Don't ride more than two abreast. Don't ride on the right of any moving vehicle. If you're leading another animal while riding, always keep it on your left, away from traffic.