Your Insider’s Guide to the Hawke’s Bay
Loved for its art deco architecture, wineries and beaches, there’s so much to discover in Hawke’s Bay. Whether you’re looking for adventure or the finest glass of chardonnay, we’ve rounded up the best things to do, see and taste on your next visit to these rolling hills and vineyard filled valleys.
Read on for must-do activities in each Hawke’s Bay region…
Things to do in Napier
Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s art deco capital. Home to the annual Art Deco Festival and our National Aquarium, these family friendly activities are a great way to immerse yourself in Hawke’s Bay’s Art Deco character.
Explore The National Aquarium of New Zealand
A visit to New Zealand’s National Aquarium always goes down swimmingly! Watch sharks and stingrays glide above you in the oceanarium and spot crayfish living in a replica of Pania Reef. The aquarium also shelters native Kiwi and Tuatara, and the little penguins are a highlight, so be sure to catch them at one of their feeding times (9:30am, 1:30 pm and 3:30pm).
The National Aquarium runs holiday programs for kids aged 6 – 11 years old, giving your child a morning of education and adventure (and giving you time to relax or explore on your own!)
Stroll Along Marine Parade
Sometimes the best activities are free! On a nice day, there’s nothing more iconic than walking along the Marine Parade. Since the National Aquarium is along this strip, it’s a good activity to pair with your aquarium visit. Admire statues and fountains along the parade, and read up on Napier’s History at the information points. Check out our guide to eating in Napier for lunch or dinner after your walk!
Experience the Art Deco Festival
Napier’s world famous Art Deco Festival happens every February. You’ll have to be organised and book a place well in advance to attend, but it’s definitely worth it! Over 80 events bring history to life during the 5 day festival, and you won’t want to miss crowd favourites like the soap box derby, Gatsby picnic and prohibition party. Bring your best frock and your sharpest suit, everyone dresses to impress!
Go On A Sea Wall Mural Hunt
Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is a large scale street art project bringing visibility to environmental issues affecting the world’s oceans. Over 40 incredible murals colour the walls of Napier CBD and Ahuriri, creating a free must-see gallery for art lovers and photographers.
Download a mural location map or interactive app here to discover them all.
Browse holiday homes in Napier here.
The Best Activities In Hastings
Hastings is all about great food and wine, and even better scenery. Explore iconic natural landmarks or New Zealand’s oldest and largest farmer’s market with our top Hastings activities.
Hike Te Mata Peak
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, this landscape might look a little familiar. With five walking tracks to choose from, your Te Mata Peak adventure could take you to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views over the craggy range. (The two loops to the summit are both dog friendly!) For a less strenuous hike, take the 40 minute Piwakawaka loop through fantail filled native bush.
Take a Vineyard Tour
Hastings is a wine lovers dream. We recommend taking a self-guided bike tour, pedalling along scenic trails from tasting to tasting. Stop at vineyards like Sileni Estates, Te Awa or our personal favourite, Trinity Hill, for cellar door tastings or enjoy cheeses among the vines. There’s nothing like fresh air and fermented grapes to fill your summer’s day!
Go Wild At Splash Planet
For a day of family fun, head to Splash Planet. New Zealand’s only water park has areas for every age, from Toddler Island to the Sky Castle Screamer and Master Blaster slides – guaranteed to raise your heart rate! Once you’re done in the water it’s time for some friendly competition on the go-kart track or mini golf course, and the little ones love a ride on the Fantasyland Express train.
Every Sunday, Hastings’ Waikoko Gardens transform into New Zealand’s largest farmer’s market. Spend a morning browsing the freshest produce and tastiest pickles and preserves, while buskers and local musicians provide your Sunday soundtrack. The kid’s corner keeps little hands busy, and if you’re lucky enough to go on the last Sunday of the month there are children’s pony rides for just $3!
Find your Hastings holiday home here.
Central Hawke’s Bay Activities
Central Hawkes Bay has history and makes history, with everything from antique engines to record holding place names. Take a break from the beach to check out these local treasures.
Snap a photo with the World’s Longest Place Name
You’ll find the world’s longest place name near Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay. “Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu” is a fairly unassuming hill, whose name translates into English as “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.” (Locals just call it Taumata Hill.)
Find it on Wimbledon Road and have your camera ready for that Instagram snap.
Discover Historic Hawke’s Bay
Home to six homesteads built in the 1800s, Central Hawke’s Bay has plenty of stories to tell. Whether you fancy a high-tea, a tale of wartime mutiny or a wander through spectacular gardens, there’s a beautiful estate waiting to welcome you.
Or explore the Settlers Museum, guardian of the military history, taonga and technology of Central Hawke’s Bay, complete with a settler’s cottage and shed full of old engines, saws and farming equipment.
Find a place to stay in Hawke’s Bay Holiday here.
Our Top Picks For Havelock North
At the foot of Te Mata Peak lies Havelock North, named New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Suburb in 2017. Exploring this quaint township, nestled amongst rolling hills and craggy peaks, it’s easy to see why.
Stop by the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre to discover what goes into those iconic honey pots. Watch the honey bees in large glass observation hives, and taste 10 varieties of Arataki Honey, each flavoured by New Zealand’s unique flora. You can even dress up as a bee-keeper or a bee to get that much closer to the honey-making experience! Free entry is a bonus.
Drive out to Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers is a stunning headland less than half an hour from Havelock North. Venture out here any time between October and April to admire the birds at one of New Zealand’s biggest and most accessible gannet colonies. If you’re interested in natural history it’s worth taking a Gannet Beach Adventures tour to visit all three Cape Kidnappers gannet colonies, while learning about local ancient earthquake fault lines & fossils.
Clustered underneath Te Mata Peak, a large grove of 223 California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) grow on the outskirts of Havelock North. Planted in 1927 these redwoods stand over 40 metres tall, their branches creating a dappled green ceiling over the path below. Bring a picnic and explore the hour long ‘ Big Redwoods Track’.
Find holiday homes in Havelock North here.
This beautiful stretch of golden sand is a popular getaway in the Hawkes Bay region. Bring your boogie boards and surf boards to make the most of the waves, and your appetite – there’s an abundance of pipi, crayfish and paua here, best eaten fresh! Waimarama Beach is dog friendly, so furry family members can come too.
Waimarama is also home to Hakikino, where a Maori fortress protecting a settlement of several thousand people once stood. You can book tours of this historic site with Waimarama Maori Tours.
Find holiday homes in Waimarama Beach here.
Rural Hawke’s Bay at it’s finest, Wairoa is the main town of Northern Hawkes Bay and is the gateway to Lake Waikaremoana, Mahia Peninsula and the wilderness of Te Urewera.
Step Back in Time at The Wairoa Museum
Sometimes the best things come in small packages. Housed in the old Union Bank of Australia Building, the Wairoa Museum houses photographic collections illustrating the Maori and European history of the area from the 1890s through to present day. Together with it’s notable collection of Maori taonga, these photographs are worth a stop, especially for history buffs.
Roadtrip From Napier To Wairoa
Round up your besties, press play on a summer soundtrack and cruise the Pacific Highway from Napier to Wairoa. Stop at Tutira for a spot of fishing, explore the farming community of Putorino, or view the Mohaka Railway Viaduct from Mohaka Bridge. At the end of the day it’s hard to beat a sunset picnic at one of the scenic lookouts.
Tutira – a beautiful little settlement with great walks and fishing spots
Over to you…
Have you got any favourite things to do in the Hawkes Bay region? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Find a place to stay and play in the Hawke’s Bay.