We’re staying in Te Awanga Cottages for a few days in the semi-rural settlement of Te Awanga, 20mins drive from Havelock North Village. The cottage is enclosed by bush and it provides the peace and quiet we crave. We’re here for the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour.

Te Awanga Cottage interior

Clifton Beach is just down the road and I’m embracing each day here!

Clifton Beach at Te Awanga


Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour – all aboard!

It’s on our “Bucket List” to do the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour. The Gannet Beach Adventures company is unique for using bright red farm tractors to haul long trailers full of excited families. It’s a lot of fun and an iconic ‘Kiwi’ experience for many international visitors to New Zealand.

Gannet Beach Adventures1

Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour

Tractor ride on the beach

This tour began at the end of the road at Clifton Bay Point. As with many coastal tours in New Zealand, the tides dictate the schedule. We began at 11am for a 4-hour trip. After a quick briefing by the tour leader and a few amusing ‘porkies’, we set off down the beach towards Cape Kidnappers. Fun in buckets!

Gannet Beach Adventures2

The local beaches have had a few storms recently and today the tractors had to negotiate their way through stony parts as well as rather deep holes. There were a few exaggerated shrieks but we were kept dry and entertained!

Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour


Unique Limestone cliffs on the way

Mother nature has formed steep cliff faces here over millions of years, resulting many layers being established. In pre-human times, substantial earthquakes also lifted the cliffs out of the ocean.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour

After about 1.5 hours we finally reached the “tractor parking” area near the Cape. There is a Doc (Department of Conversation) shelter and fresh water facilities. Most fellow travellers bought their own food for a picnic lunch. We had about 1.5 hours to explore the area.

Gannet Beach Limestone Cliffs


Gannets galore!

Next, we took a 30 minute one-way walk to the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony. We greeted these photogenic birds on a sunny April day and cameras were ready.

gannet beach tour colony

They seemed quite unfazed by our presence. It’s was heartening to see fellow travellers quietly sitting around to view this incredible wildlife scene with the respect it deserves. The rugged magnificence of the limestone cliffs contrast beautifully with the soft green paddocks.

Cape Kidnappers Limestone closeup

The tour usually returns on the same route it started but we decided to walk 10 kilometres from the Gannet colony to Clifton Bay. We’d seen a number of walkers doing this return trip on foot and thought it would be fun. It was a lovely, easy walk along the cliffs, pass gentle rolling surf. At some point we removed our shoes to cross shallow streams but considered that all part of the experience.

Cape Kidnappers walking back

After many years of having the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tour on our to-do list, we were not disappointed. It’s refreshing to be so close to nature and an enriching experience. On a warm day, a tour like this is the ideal way to explore a beautiful part of the  Hawkes Bay region.

Cape Kidnappers walk2

Happy Travelling.

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6 responses to “Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour”

  1. Jan Roberts says:

    It looks fantastic. Yet another part of our beautiful Coast line – we are so spoilt in NZ and probably many of our fellow countrymen don’t even realise it. I notice you say “Michael” a lot rather than “we” so I’m assuming you opted for the trailer ride home again Pam lol

    • GuestNZ says:

      It was seeing parents out with their children exposing them to the wild, beautiful and wonderful part of our world. Hey Jan, thanks for picking up on the ‘nitty gritty’. Yes I admit I opted out of walking back. Let me think about it before I come up with a half decent excuse.

  2. Jane Smith says:

    That’s a striking part of NZ and no mistake – I’ve never seen it before. Thank you for sharing as they say in social media circles. I bet it’s thunderous experience on a stormy day – very invigorating. I didn’t realise gannets were quite such large birds either. Travel well you two.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hey Jane, never visited this particular area before so I was extremely surprised by the diversity of the landscape. Hmm, personally, I’d prefer to experience the invigoration to a calm and sunny day. Just saying xx

  3. Rosalie Ellis says:

    Hi Michael, although it has been 3 years since our wonderful visit you planned for us in New Zealand and Australia, Tom and I talk often about going back to the North Island and to Rotorua for a another chance to trout fish and Hawkes Bay to spend more time. We loved the diversity of the North Island and would love to visit these places too!

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Rosalie,good to hear from you. I’m sure you’d love the Hawkes Bay Region of the North Island, as we did. Cape Kidnappers and the surrounding area was a definite highlight. Many beautiful bike trails here as well. Hope you can discover North Island highlights soon.

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