Hastings - Heart of Hawke's Bay

The world’s largest mainland gannet colony

July 7th, 2016

Not being from New Zealand, having moved here from Kazakhstan, I was so excited about visiting Cape Kidnappers and seeing these much talked-about gannets!

Gannet Beach Adventures offer personally guided, four-hour round trip tours on a vintage tractor / trailer. Owner / Operator Kim Lindsay was our tour guide for the day who’s energy and enthusiasm made it hard to not get excited about the interesting cliff formations and migration of the gannet.

Some of the amazing cliff formations

View from the top of the cliffs

On the trailer making our way back

Driving 15 minutes from Hastings to meet everyone outside the Clifton Motor Camp, we all climbed up on the vintage tractor to start our tour. The seats were extra comfy and I sat next to a really friendly local who hadn’t visited the gannets before (why wouldn’t you?!)

Setting off on the trailer, it was a little wobbly but you soon got used to it. We drove straight on to the sandy beach where Kim started to tell us about  the geological history of the cape as we passed by the towering cliffs. A part of this stretch of coastline from the Cape to Clifton is over 4 million years old and you can see much of that history etched into the rocky cliffs.

Bring a jacket as the wind can pick up along the coast, and be prepared (depending on what side of the trailer you are on) to get your feet wet as you drive though some shallow waves.

Our trip was in early October so there weren’t a lot of gannets around and those which were there were nesting. But by December the chicks will have hatched and the colony will be a hive of activity. There are four main nesting sites at the cape that becomes home to over 15,000 birds in the height of summer. At 15-16 weeks the chicks take their first flight which see’s them fly across the Tasman Sea to Australia. It’s a hazardous journey and only around 30% of the birds will return to the cape to breed when they are 2 – 3 years old, which was very sad to hear.

The highlight of the tour was a seal we saw on the cliffs basking in the sun. It was a great way to spend an afternoon and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to do something a bit different and explore our region.


Bookings are essential for these tours. Contact Gannet Beach Adventures on 0800 GANNETS (426638) if you are in New Zealand, or 0064 6 8750 898 from outside of New Zealand. You can also find them on Facebook!

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