About The Tour

Where else in the world can you jump on the back of a trailer and get towed along the beach by a 1949 Minneapolis-Moline tractor to a bird colony?

After an absence of almost two years, our iconic tractor tours resumed just prior to Christmas 2020 and we safely transported several thousand visitors over the season to Cape Kidnappers and back without incident.  The 2021-22 season is well underway, there are lots of gorgeous babies to be seen!

The Department of Conservation and Hastings District Council jointly commissioned report found that the risk levels per trip associated with visiting the gannets are less than those from eruption hazards when walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

GNS Science QRA Cape Kidnappers

We have safely transported passengers along this fascinating and ever-changing geological coastline for 70 years and are pleased that the report states the safest way to experience the beach route to Cape Kidnappers is with our organised tour to ‘take advantage of local knowledge and reduced exposure time’.

With all access open to the public, we are operating our tours with all safety and legislative requirements in place under an updated and independently audited safety plan.

Our unique, fun eco-experience tour involves travel with local experienced guides by vintage tractors and trailers on a comfortable four-hour adventure to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world!  Established in 1952, Gannet Beach Adventures has a long history of providing tours on a spectacular stretch of the Hawke’s Bay coastline, from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers.

Visitors travel by tractor and trailer along the majestically rugged coastline – you will be amazed by the incredible cliffs and the stories they hold, but be aware they are often on the move with this seismic country of ours, and the beach track can be subject to unpredictable slips and rockfalls, and is also in a tsunami risk zone.

Departing on the days’ low tide, photographic opportunities abound as geological stops are made throughout the journey giving visitors an insight into how nature’s forces have shaped this amazing area.

Travelling through the Black Reef colony (one of two colonies we visit) visitors can almost touch the gannets in their natural environment, without even stepping off the trailer (no walking involved at this colony!).  It was near this site in 1769 that local Maori kidnapped a Tahitian crew member off Captain Cook’s ship The Endeavour, the incident from which Cape Kidnappers gets its name.

Continuing onto the Cape itself, an approximate 90 minute break enables visitors ample time to picnic, swim, or enjoy a scenic walk to the Plateau colony.  Stunning views across Hawke’s Bay from the top of the Cape grace many a visitor’s photo album.  The Saddle & Whalebone Reef colonies can also be viewed from here (but are inaccessible to the public).

Depending on the time of the season, visitors can witness new-born chicks, through to 4-month old gannets preparing for their first ever flight, which will take them all the way to Australian waters.

Top Tour Tips:

  • Daily departures from late September/early October to late April; departure times vary daily due to tides (check our schedule)
  • Tours are approximately 4hrs duration.  Black Reef tours are around 2.5-3hrs duration.
  • Always come prepared for the conditions – check the forecast before you come!  Bring:  warm clothing (and wet-weather gear if necessary), hats, sunscreen, togs & towel, plenty of food & drink, wear suitable walking shoes with reasonable grip
  • We visit two colonies, and the gannets at Black Reef can be viewed without even getting out of your trailer seat – no walking involved!  Walking up to the Plateau colony involves a bit of a climb, it’s a bit steep in places, so a moderate level of fitness is needed (know your own limits!).  However, you can choose to remain at the picnic area which is an easy walk from the beach, and enjoy the views and surroundings there.
  • Don’t forget your camera (but remember we are near water).