Frequently asked questions
Do you operate all year round?
No – our season runs from October to April. When the chicks leave, almost all adults return to the sea for the winter months. The Reserve is also closed for breeding purposes from 1 July until the Wednesday before Labour Weekend each year (which usually falls around the 20th October).
What is the best time to visit?
Any time! The adult gannets are all back in full-force by the time we open, however the chicks start appearing from mid-November, and they will leave the colonies at around 15-16 weeks of age. As the adults start to leave once their chick has gone, bird numbers do get low during the latter part of our season (April).
How much does it cost?
- Adults - $44.00
- Children (4-15yrs) - $24.00 (Children aged 3yrs & under are free of charge)
- Students - $34.00 (with ID)
Please enquire for our group rates (15 or more paying passengers)
2 Adults & 1 Child $106.00
Additional children $18.00
NB: A percentage of each fare is paid to the Department of Conservation for the preservation of NZ’s natural assets.
Payment methods: Eftpos, Credit cards (MasterCard & Visa), Cash.
What time do the tours depart?
As we travel along the beach and rely on the tides, our departure times are different each day. Please refer to our departure schedule. You will need to arrive at Clifton approximately 20 minutes’ prior to departure time for check-in.
Where do the tours depart from?
Our departure area is located at 475 Clifton Road, Clifton, on the left-hand side opposite Clifton Café. This is approximately 25 minutes’ drive from Napier, Hastings or Havelock North. There is plenty of free parking available on the roadside, and public toilets are available.
Do you operate a shuttle service?
We do - there is a cost for this service and it must be pre-booked:
1 person $45.00 (return)
2+ people $30.00 each (return)
Pickup is usually 45 minutes prior to the departure time, from the I-Sites (Napier or Hastings).
How many people can you take?
With our fleet of 5 tractors, our capacity is approximately 180 people.
Is it necessary to book or can I just turn up?
Bookings are essential – we need to know our numbers in advance so that we can organize our drivers for the day. If you just turn up we may not be able to fit you on, and you may be disappointed!
What happens if the weather is not good?
We tend to go whatever the weather so we ask that people come prepared for the weather on the day. However, there are times that we will cancel due to weather or sea conditions – we will contact you as soon as we know this. If the weather is doubtful and we decide to still go, but you would rather not, that is fine – all we ask is that you give us a quick call and we can cancel your booking. Check the weather forecast here. (For people who have paid a deposit, check our cancellation policy for refund details)
Are the trailers covered?
The trailers are not covered; however we do have tarpaulins we can bring out if there are showers or rain.
Is there a chance I could get wet (from sea-water)?
As we travel along the beach, and sometimes in the water, this is always a possibility!
What happens if the tour is cancelled?
As mentioned above we do sometimes have to cancel due to weather or sea/beach conditions and we will contact you as soon as possible if this is the case. We can either transfer you to another day, or cancel your booking. (For people who have paid a deposit, check our cancellation policy for refund details)
NB: Occasionally we start a trip only to have to turn-around - in this case refunds are provided as per our Refund Policy.
Please refer to our Wellbeing Policy if you have any concerns because you are:-
- bringing young children
As the safety of our passengers is our top priority, please let us know when booking if you or any of your group has any physical or medical conditions that we need to be aware of.
How fit do I need to be?
The walk to the lighthouse & upper colonies is optional - however the views are spectacular! This walk is approximately 25 minutes, is around 1.3km and you are climbing from beach level up to 100m - so moderate fitness is required. If you cannot make the walk, you can still see the gannets at Black Reef – this colony is located on the beach, and we do stop here on our return journey.
How long is the tour?
The tour is approximately 4 hours duration. However, there are the occasional days when we may run a little behind schedule, due to beach conditions.
How long is spent with the Gannets?
The stop at Cape Kidnappers is approximately 1.5hrs.
Are the toilets en-route?
There are toilets at our departure area, and at the Department of Conservation Rest Shelter at Cape Kidnappers.
What should I bring along?
- Warm clothing (jacket or windbreaker, sweatshirt etc)
- Sunhat & sunglasses
- Comfortable & sturdy walking shoes – not jandals!
- Food & drink (depending on the time of your trip, there is plenty of room on the trailers for a picnic lunch or dinner, or morning/afternoon tea - some people have even been known to bring breakfast on our early morning runs!)
NB: We sell drinks, ice-creams, chocolate bars & chippies. Clifton Café is located across the road from our departure point, and is open Wednesday to Sunday 9am-4pm.
We encourage people to wear comfortable clothing & shoes and not your “Sunday Best” – as we travel along the beach and sometimes in the water, there is always the possibility that you may get wet!
Complimentary sunscreen is provided at our ticket office, and is also available on-board the tractors.