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Top sights, attractions & places to go in Hawke’s Bay

  • 4 minutes

Napier, New Zealand

Top sights include a gorgeous climate, cuisine and farm to plate foodie experiences, vineyards and orchards to wander through. Places to go range from art deco architecture, the fascinating coastline of Cape Kidnappers gannets. Explore rock pools and marine reserves of the Hawke’s Bay. Top spots offer visitors summers exploring outdoors, rainy days in museums and galleries, interesting art deco Napier to stroll and the taste of freshly picked orchard fruit. Hawke’s Bay is a place like no other.

The Fairy penguin (or Blue penguin) in National aquarium of New Zealand. This species is the smallest penguin in the world.
The Fairy penguin (or Blue penguin) in National aquarium of New Zealand

Discover a Napier highlight for families, couples and rainy days. The innovative refuge for blue penguins offers visitors up close and personal interactions with the marine world surrounding the Hawke’s Bay. You can join a tour and feed the penguins and hear where individuals were rescued. Enjoy the journey under the sea and immerse yourself in the Aquarium’s largest exhibit on a gliding walkway or find out what happens underwater at Pania Reef, offshore Napier.


Delve into the world of hard labour, executions and 19th century punishment in Napier Prison. The highly evocative high stone walls, the grim iron doors and copious use of bars is atmospheric. The former prison is intact and an accurate representation of crime and punishment in the past. It is a must-do experience for families (kids friendly tour option), individuals wishing to understand the reality of prison life in times past and for heritage buffs.

Old Napier Prison Entrance, New Zealand
Old Napier Prison Entrance

Indulge in a leisurely brunch / lunch in the vineyard courtyard of your choice. From the well known vineyards of Mission Estate, Black Barn Vineyard, Elephant Hill, Te Mata Estate to over 200 vineyards and over 70 wineries and over 30 cellar doors the list is endless. The area is known for its excellent red blends, notable syrah and chardonnay. Approximately 90% of New Zealand’s Syrah, Cabernets and Merlot are produced in the Hawke’s Bay.


Grab a bike (E-bike), join a tour and relax into a day on the road. Napier wine tour day trip, travel guide, what to do & see: Best Bits is the ideal way to enjoy Te Mata figs in Havelock North. Te Mata Figs, figs in ice cream, chocolate, biscuits and savoury toppings. Plus figs to eat either as is or coated, soaked in a number of ways. Fabulous small gifts for someone special are solved at Te Mata Figs. For inspiration check out Day trip from Napier to Havelock North. Or perhaps a day exploring Taradale with an excuse to lunch in an art deco building, now McDonalds. Enjoy nearby Church Road winery is another pioneering vineyard. The second oldest winery has a superb restaurant, open cellar door and guided tours for visitors. For ideas check out Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay activities, things to do & see: Best Bits.

@Love Havelock North
@Love Havelock North
Marine Parade Sound Shell with colonnade, Norfolk Pines and city deco style buildings behind, Napier, New Zealand
Marine Parade

Art Deco Napier is beautifully captured in the Soundshell Pavilion with the Sunken Garden the perfect place for quiet contemplation. The Parade is home to a superb kids playground, in ground water fountains and glorious sculptures and public works. The connection between the beach and the heritage of art deco Napier, the exquisite features of the Masonic Hotel is the long row of Norfolk pines adding depth and dimension to the picturesque city. A must-go location for lovers of architecture, beaches and gardens.

  1. MTG / Faraday Centre

Rainy days sorted or perhaps a place to entertain the kids or yourself. The Faraday Centre is amazing with interaction cranked up another level. Visitors are invited to jump in the car seat, turn the knob and see what happens. Kids are in the traditional red phone booth trying out a bakelite black telephone and everything is whirring and spinning. It’s fun and a must-do for lovers of gadgets and technology, be it 19th century or yesterday. A MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri is a museum, theatre and art gallery folded into an art deco beauty together with contemporary architecture. The buildings are magnificent and there is something for everyone inside. And a great gift shop. A holiday must for visitors to the Hawke’s Bay.

Maraetotara falls with rock pools, New Zealand
Maraetotara falls with rock pools

Instagram star with #maraetotarafalls. Very popular as a picturesque waterfall, freshwater swimming at the base of the waterfall with a heritage walk. Find the former Havelock North Power Station in its pretty setting. The short 10 minute walk leads to the falls and a delightful swimming hole. The place is a local favourite and is very popular on the weekends during the summer months. For more ideas about walks, check out Walks in the Central Hawke’s Bay.


Spoil yourself, join a tour to meet and greet the largest colony of gannets in the North Island. It is a considerable walk from the carpark to the gannet colony. The sheer scale, the noise of the gannet colony and the characteristic smell of bird poop is memorable. Cape Kidnappers Gannet Tours is a 4×4 safari experience takes you on a guided discovery tour to the top of Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony where you will come encounter over 20,000 gannets in their natural habitat– nesting, preening, dancing swooping and diving right before your eyes.


Sunrise at Te Mata Peak, New Zealand
Sunrise at Te Mata Peak

Learn about the mountain, its story in Maori mythology, capture the sunset from the peak, take a walk in a redwood grove are some of the attractions of Te Mata Regional Park. Te Mata Peak is the place to go for 360° views of Hawke’s Bay. Visitors can see Napier and Mahia Peninsula to the north and east, hill country to the south and east, and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges beyond the fertile Heretaunga Plains. Mount Ruapehu is often visible in the distance.


Hawke’s Bay is a coastal region offering 360 kilometres of beaches from the famed surf beaches of Mahia Peninsula to the safe swimming beaches of city beaches, Port Napier and Ahuriri estuary. There are bush walks, rock pools and Te Angiangi Marine Reserve to explore. For a detailed overview of Hawke’s Bay beaches check Beaches in the Hawke’s Bay beaches.

Aerial view of Napier, New Zealand
Napier coastline


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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