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Things to do in the Hawke’s Bay Attractions, Activities & Places to Visit

Discover things to do in Hawke’s Bay in our travel guide. There are plenty of attractions to keep you busy, from food treats and fantastic weekend markets to Hawke’s Bay wineries and outdoor activities.

Attractions range from Art Deco Napier and an intact extensive collection of exquisitely detailed pastel art deco loveliness encapsulated in buildings and objects. Hawke’s Bay is a rich treasure trove of Maori history. Hawke Bay tourism includes glorious walks and beaches for a summer holiday.

Check out the New Zealand Travel Guide for an overview of Aotearoa New Zealand attractions, things to do and places to visit.



Check out Amazing 12 New Zealand Attractions and pop them on your bucket list.


Top Adventure Sights in Hawke’s Bay

@Hawkes Bay Wines
@Hawkes Bay Wines
  • Gannets, beautiful, striking ocean birds in one truly massive nesting site. Situated on a dramatic clifftop. The perfect place for launching out to sea for parents who fly
  • Cycling and coastal biking trails past wineries, vineyards and orchards with tempting roadside stalls.
  • Waka (outrigger ocean-going Maori canoes) adventures where the stars navigate the way home.

Top Art & Culture Sights in Hawkes Bay

  • Art Deco Napier buildings from the National Tobacco Co (smoking profits created the glorious curved lines) to Napier’s Masonic Hotel.
  • Hastings and Faraday Technology Centre.
  • Napier Prison, where spooky scary stories about hanging and misdeeds are memorised in your personalised ID shot of you in tasteful prison grab complete with fingerprints.
National Tobacco Co art deco beauty, Napier, New Zealand
National Tobacco Co art deco beauty, Napier

Top Outdoor Sights in Hawkes Bay

The view from the Mighty Te Mata Peak, New Zealand at dawn...
The view from the Mighty Te Mata Peak
  • Te Mata Peak (Havelock North), the craggy austere soaring sweep of peaks, overlooks the fertile Heretaunga Plains and beyond.
  • Bells Rock, extraordinary limestone rock formations with accompanying spectacular views.
  • Lush Gardens & Park benefiting from a temperate climate from the outstanding Trelinnoe Arboretum. Napier’s Centennial Gardens with its own waterfalls to Tikokino garden festival with its lush peonies, herbaceous borders and mature trees to linger in.
  • Te Araroa Trail, this multi-day walking trail celebrates the land’s history and culture. It has been developed to be accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Beaches, the East Coast is renowned for its stunning beaches and seascapes. Includes Bay on Lake Taupo with its black sand beach the golden sands.

Top Food & Drink Sights in Hawkes Bay Area

  • Hawke’s Bay visitor slogan says it all, “Food & Wine Country.” Do not worry about calories; you are on holiday, and an exciting menu awaits visitors. Bit into harvested Te Mata figs, sip Mission Estate wines and savour fresh peaches from a roadside stall.
  • Craft breweries, cideries and even a distillery ensure everyone is catered for.
  • Sweet foodie treats are not forgotten by several world-class chocolate manufacturers, french pastries and their iconic ice cream parlour, Rush Munro.
@Hawkes Bay Wines
@Hawkes Bay Wines
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand @limerockwines
Hawkes Bay @limerockwines

What is Hawkes Bay Famous for?

Hawke’s Bay region is a contrast between fertile orchards and vineyards to mountainous ranges covered in primaeval forests and ocean beaches. The area is summed up as food & wine country with a dash of art deco elegance.

Hawke’s Bay is often viewed through a ruby-rich drop of wine with figs or olives on your platter. Hawke’s Bay is a curve of the Pacific Ocean meeting land from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.

Things to do in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

A balmy climate creates a year-round comfortable outdoor setting for walks, beach fossicking, and exploring native reserves and parks. For more details, check out Central Hawke’s Bay Walks & North Hawke’s Bay Walks.

There is Otatara Pa, the largest archaeological pre-European Maori fortified village site to explore with its strategic position very evident as you survey the surrounding countryside.

Waterfalls have the choice of Maraetotara Waterfalls nearby Havelock North or the stunning Shine Waterfalls in northern Hawke’s Bay to explore. Central Hawke’s Bay has a lesser-known shared cycle/walking Tuki Tuki Trail which finds a disused water tunnel, swimming holes and native reserves.

Shine Falls on the North Island in New Zealand
Shine Falls on the North Island

What to do in Hawkes Bay – Highlights

Clear blue sky at The Pekapeka Wetlands, Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Pekapeka Wetlands
  • Cape Kidnappers Gannets – November through to March. The largest accessible mainland colony of gannets in the world.
  • Otatara Pa heritage pa (village) archaeological site for its views, historical value and setting.
  • Maraetotara Falls is a popular swimming spot for locals and visitors in the know.
  • Pekapeka Wetlands with its seasonal/migrating bird life.
  • Tuki Tuki Shared Walking/Cycling Trail in Central Hawke’s Bay, Waipukurau.
  • Blowhard Bush Reserve is known for its karst-like caves, scenery and wildlife.
  • Bell Rock limestone wind sculptured rock pinnacle lookout point.
  • Shine Falls, a horsetail waterfall dropping 58 metres.

Gardens & Parks in Hawkes Bay

With perfect growing conditions, one of New Zealand’s premier fruit bowls also creates beautiful gardens. A journey exploring the best Gardens and Parks in Hawke’s Bay is a year-round attraction.


  • After autumn foliage colour? Visit Trelinnoe Garden.
  • Adore roses? Napier public gardens are the places to be.
  • Enjoy garden festivals? Spring blooms visit Tikokino District Garden.
  • Love spring daffodils? Plenty of daffodils at the Central Hawke’s Bay Garden Trail are part of Spring Fling, September and October.
  • What to find the latest gardening tool? Visit Hawke’s Bay Home & Garden.
  • Enjoy a garden tour with pop-up food stalls? Visit Foodscapes Open Garden Waipawa.
Botanical Gardens scenic reserve in Napier Hawkes Bay New Zealand a formal garden established in 1874
Botanical Gardens scenic reserve in Napier
Trelinnoe park, Napier, New Zealand
Trelinnoe park, Napier

Top Sights

  • Roses in formal public gardens and parks, in private gardens.
  • Trelinnoe Arboretum and Garden is a glorious respite on the Napier/Taupo highway.
  • English style bedding style nestled among art deco beauties on the Marine Parade.
  • Gardens, parks, orchards and vineyards conjure green spaces and a sense of countryside throughout Hawke’s Bay.
  • Hawke’s Bay annual garden festivals with a chance to peek into beautiful private lush places full of brimming blooms.
  • Tikokino garden festival with its lush peonies, herbaceous borders and mature trees to linger.
  • Weleda’s biodynamic garden principles and the adjoining factory shop.

Hawke’s Bay – The Food and Wine Country

Hawke’s Bay is a “food and wine” country, and it’s now the official slogan. Hawke’s Bay is the premium food producer in New Zealand. Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine region in the country.

The premium export-led agricultural sector surplus can be found at grower’s roadside stalls. Weekend markets are another venue for sourcing freshly harvested produce. The balmy climate leads to innovative products such as figs.

Napier has cutting-edge restaurants such as Pacifica, Napier experiments with native ingredients as part of the flavour palate. Hawke’s Bay is a heavyweight in artisan goodies. Think about a French baker who calls Hastings home or exquisite, handcrafted chocolates found in both Hastings and Napier.

Food, artisan shops, and places to go are discussed together with an Extended Weekend Road Trip exploring the byways and food culture of Hawke’s Bay.

There is a Day trip from Napier to Havelock North, where you can cycle your way around vineyards and food outlets.

@Te Mata Figs
@Te Mata Figs

Things to do in Hawkes Bay When Raining

Old Napier Prison Entrance, New Zealand
Old Napier Prison Entrance

Napier is family-friendly, with Napier Prison promoting tours focused on the child (not too scary) and making sure the kids have a good time. Then there is the Faraday Technology Centre, where kids can jump into the driving seat and pull levers.

Napier National Aquarium has a hand-feeding session with penguins, little penguins and little people interacting and learning about each other. And swimming in the rain is a good idea when you have the Ocean Spa swimming complex next door to the Aquarium.

Things to do in Hawkes Bay for Families

Hawke’s Bay is an ideal family holiday destination with indoor activities for the potential wet weather days to the outdoors enjoying the warm weather. Things to do for families & kids in Napier has great tips for your family holiday in Hawke’s Bay.

Things to do in Hawkes Bay With Kids – Highlights

  • Cape Kidnappers Gannet Tour – with kids, don’t walk the beach, you are dependent on the tides, and it is a considerable distance from the carpark. Gannet Safari tours follow a route through farmland and the hills to the Cape with an informative commentary to keep kids entertained.
  • Clifton Station Wool World – Watch demonstrations of sheep dogs in action and an entertaining description of the history of wool in Hawke’s Bay. Sit on benches inside a big original 1890s wool shed and enjoy. There are farm animals and vintage farm equipment to pore over.
  • Kids will enjoy the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre and dressing up as a beekeeper and get to view the world through the eyes of a bee. There is a gift shop and cafe with honey-flavoured ice cream. Kids can learn how honey gets its flavour from New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.
  • Visit a very unusual shop/museum at Opossum World. Possums are classified as kiwi pests due to their propensity to devour native birds and strip endangered plants of their leaves. The museum pays homage to the national pest with possum fur collectables, stories about the rampaging possums and taxidermied possums standing to attention as the story of their damage are told.

There are Taxidermied Possums which could upset some kids. Opossum world is part of our Odd, Unusual and Fascinating Things to do in Hawke’s Bay list.

  • Find out with the kids about traditional star navigation. Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, the traditional navigation tool for east Polynesians voyaging the Pacific Ocean, was the alignment of the stars. A star compass is a training tool used by celestial navigators who sailed traditionally throughout the Pacific. The rising and setting points of the celestial bodies are memorised by using the carved Pou (Posts) and the Horizon. For tours of the site, please contact the Ātea a Rangi Educational Trust, which was responsible for the design, carving and completion of the star compass.
@Ātea a Rangi
@Ātea a Rangi
Shine Falls on the North Island, New Zealand
Shine Falls on the North Island

Shine Waterfalls is a popular track that is great for all age groups. The track’s initial path passes farmland and patches of mixed lowland forest before emerging at the base of the stunning Shine Falls. The horsetail waterfall is the highest waterfall in Hawke’s Bay at 58 meters. Kaka beak grows on the cliffs creating a beautiful spring display of yellow follows.

Shine falls are surrounded by native trees from the woody kanuka, kawakawa, kowhai and tiki. Pack a picnic lunch and look for tuna/eels living in the stream at the base of the falls. There are no toilets at the carpark or on the walk.

Bell Rock

Bell Rock’s extraordinary limestone formations are Instagram favourites, and the actually weathered outcrop ‘Bell Rock’ is the resident rockstar of the outcrop.

Bell Rock is a top pick due to its views and the extraordinary rock formations leading up to the lookout. It is a hike up to the viewpoint. Check out our Bell Rock Track Guide for details on getting to Bell Rock and the walking conditions.

The exposed lookout is known for its wind, and there is no water nearby, consequently carrying adequate supplies.

Bell Rock lookout in Maungaharuru Range Tutira Hawkes Bay New Zealand
Bell Rock lookout
@Guthrie Smith

Guthrie-Smith Arboretum (Tutira)

Entry to Guthrie-Smith Arboretum is free. Over 90 hectares of walking tracks thread through geographical regions marked by native trees from each area.

The woodlands are full of birds and native wildlife. Picnic spots galore and plenty of space to gulp fresh air. Relax and absorb the gorgeous scenery or take a walk and explore the arboretum.

The arboretum is open from October to May. We recommend checking the timings beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Central Hawke’s Bay Walks

Central Hawke’s Bay Walks include:

  • Te Mata peak is another iconic local walk. It is the place to go for 360° views of Hawke’s Bay. Visitors can see Napier and Mahia Peninsula to the northeast, hill country to the southeast, and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru range beyond the fertile Heretaunga Plains. Mount Ruapehu is often visible in the distance. There is the bonus of proximity to the glorious cafe scene of nearby Havelock North.
  • Maraetotara Historical walk to the swimming hole and waterfall. The falls are Instagram favourites with the hashtag #maraetotarafalls. Very popular short walk suitable for all age groups and interests. Find the former Havelock North Power Station in its pretty setting.
  • Bird watchers don’t miss out on the Pekapeka wetlands boardwalk.
Sunrise at Te Mata Peak, New Zealand
Sunrise at Te Mata Peak

Enjoy Cycling at Hawke’s Bay

Hastings, New Zealand

Over 200 km of cycling trails offer short, leisurely half-day explorations and multiple hilly puffing climb. Dedicated cycle trails are wrapped around Napier, Hasting and follow the coast. You can pick a landscape and watery theme or food and wine themes for your route. Check the travel pack section for a route map for inspiration.

Shared pathways link Napier, Hastings, and Havelock North and small settlements. The trails meander through vineyards, past beaches and rivers, with cafes tempting bikers and walkers to rest and revive.

The roadside stalls operating with honesty boxes invite bikers to grab a luscious peach or apple while enjoying magnificent mountains, coastal lookouts, wetlands, orchards and vineyards. The balmy climate creates a year-round ideal cycling environment.

Tuki Tuki Trail is a network of trails for walkers and bikers, situated in Central Hawke’s Bay between the townships of Waipukurau & Waipawa. It offers various trails and tracks along the beautiful Tuki Tuki river.

Cycle your way through the weekend with Takaro Trails Tours operating self-guided cycle tours, mountain biking packages and bike hire from their Ahuriri base. Tours range in duration from a few hours to several days. Arrange with Takaro Trails to deposit e-bikes or manual bikes at the East Pier hotel for your weekend use.

Takaro Trails allows visitors to explore Hawke’s Bay trails at their own pace. Choose from self-guided day tours along easy, flat cycle pathways to world-class wineries. Or just ride to relax and enjoy the amazing Hawke’s Bay outdoors. Takaro offers pick-ups from accommodation and will collect weary cyclists from pre-arranged locations.

Tarewa Bridge on Tukituki Trail at Tukituki River near Waipukurau, Hawkes Bay
Tarewa Bridge on Tukituki Trail

Check out Hawke’s Bay Trails for up-to-date information about happenings and changes to routes. For ease while on the route, download the cycle trail app.

Always download specific routes offline to ensure you’ve sorted it all for areas where wifi is an issue.

View of Whakatane town from Puketapu Lookout at Whakatane town in New Zealand
View of Whakatane town from Puketapu Lookout at Whakatane town

Thematic Rides

Thematic rides include:

  • Puketapu Loop – Water Ride
  • Marine Parade Explorer – Water Ride
  • The Wineries Ride
  • Cape Coast – Clive to Clifton – Landscapes Ride
  • Havelock North to Clive – Landscapes Ride
  • Tuki Tuki Loop – Landscapes Ride

Hawkes Bay Towns

Here is the list of the main towns in Hawke’s Bay region:


The glamorous queen of art deco Napier is the regional centre of Hawke’s Bay. Napier is a city with a personality. Bustling, busy Napier, the regional centre of Hawke’s Bay, has its distinctive character forged from the port, the earthquake and surrounding hills.

Napier is separated from Hastings by fertile plains, orchards, vineyards and dairy pastures. The town has a streak of independence from its neighbours and is justifiably proud of its pastel glory and its role as the oldest settled town in the Bay.

Art Deco street light, Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Art Deco street light Napier

Top Sights in Napier, Hawkes Bay

  • Marine Parade is an elegant seaside avenue of Norfolk pines framing the road and the sea on the other side. The Parade is composed of Sunken Gardens, a quiet retreat from the bustle of the adventure playground for kids with its traffic lights and roundabout. The Parade has a Pania of the Reef sculpture as a focal point for selfies and a pretty art deco Soundshell pavilion for concerts.
  • National Aquarium, located on the edge of the Marine Parade, deftly uses seawater to flush water through its massive seaquarium. It provides a home for endangered Little Blue Penguins, a must-go destination for families.
  • MTG Hawke’s Bay is a museum, theatre and gallery rolled into one gleaming cultural centre.
  • Daily Telegraph building & National Tobacco building are sure-fire art deco glories. Wear a flapper dress or chic suit is an excellent prop for a photo moment.
  • Masonic Hotel on the waterfront is a star of the accommodation and entertainment scene, with its chops going back to the 1930s. Luxury by the beach doesn’t come any better than a historic hotel revamped and going gorgeous.
  • Napier Urban Farmers Market, a foodie, treats galore.
  • Napier Prison, where hard labour started with building the prison walls and the hanging yard
  • Seawalls mural, street art trail with sustainability a core part of the art’s message
  • Ahuriri boardwalk and rejuvenated warehouses into trendy cafes, eateries and galleries
  • Find a stunning marine masterpiece, an ocean-going Waka (double-hulled Polynesian seafaring vessel) in Ahuriri. Check Waka Saling for details.
  • Taradale, where Mcdonald’s occupies an art deco building, tastefully, of course
  • Centennial Gardens & Bluff Hill Lookout walk along original paths and enjoy the views from the top.
Art Deco Masonic Hotel building in Napier, New Zealand
Art Deco Masonic Hotel building in Napier

Take a guided tour of the art deco buildings and learn about the stories behind the devastating earthquake of February 1931.

There is a lot to see and do in Napier; for suggestions on romantic things to do for a special weekend or activities for families, check our Napier City Travel Guide.

Eateries, cafes, and other free activities are covered in our guide on Free Things to Do in Napier.

Hastings town square, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Hastings town square


Reimagined and rejuvenated Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre is the showpiece for Hastings. The 1905 heritage gem is now a glorious example of what can be done to reinvent a drab town centre.

The grafted modern centre works wonderfully, creating a seamless flow from the exterior to the funky Oscar Wilde 1930s roaring style. While classy Napier is a magnet for visitors, Hastings is a quiet achiever with local sights worthy of a night or several in the town.

Hastings is also the ideal base for exploring the wider Hawke’s Bay. Food buffs will not miss out on treats with Hastings rivalling Napier in the cuisine stakes.

Top Sights in Hastings, Hawkes Bay

  • Eighteen per (Maori carved sculptures) gracing the city centre narrating the story of local iwi (tribes).
  • Rush Munro ice cream shop, a local institution.
  • Food scene from a transported French baker providing light crisp French baked goods to an urban distillery and cafes.
  • Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market is a stalwart for foodie lovers every weekend.
  • Over 70 wineries and craft breweries are within biking distance of the town centre.
  • Splash Planet Waterworld for kids with hydro slides and water fountains, managed by the local council.

Our dedicated guide on Things to do in Hastings will help you explore the city.

Clock tower with concrete sheep, Hastings, New Zealand
Clock tower with concrete sheep, Hastings

Havelock North

For visitors, the mix of vineyard courtyards, boutique artisan stores and proximity to the outdoors creates another choice where to stay while exploring Hawke’s Bay. Havelock North has a long history of human settlement dating back 800 years.

Havelock North is a convenient location for history enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. And, best of all, the location is off the visitor’s radar: no massive tour buses or crowds, just the locals and yourself.

@Love Havelock North
@Love Havelock North

Top Sights in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay

  • Te Mata Peak, a hill rich in pre-European history, offers magnificent views of the countryside. You can even ‘cheat’ and not really climb with a road, almost getting to the highest lookout point.
  • Country village shopping at its best.
  • Havelock North handmade market for crafty creations

Here is a complete guide on Things to do in Havelock North.

Mahia Peninsula

Officially part of the Hawke’s Bay region, you can feel as though you are in the East Cape and Gisborne region. However, that is not the case. Dramatic whitened limestone sculptured cliffs rise from ocean surf beaches.

Mahia is primarily a holiday destination for North Island locals who enjoy a classic summer beach vibe without the distractions of a resort or spas. For the surfing crowd, it is a mecca with constant surf and drawcards. The impact of the stark cliffs, sandy beaches and remote settings is memorising.

Explore the Maungawhio Lagoon, climb the buffs to obtain great views and take in the sunset at Mahia Beach with wrapped fish n chips as the perfect accompaniment. Mahia now has another claim to fame as the original home for Rocket Lab. Mahia now shoots for the stars with this innovative kiwi company.

For more tourism ideas in Mahia, check out our guide on Mahia Peninsula Attractions and Things to do.

Mahia Peninsula white limestone cliffs, New Zealand
Mahia Peninsula white limestone cliffs

Te Awanga

On Napier’s south coast is the little beachside settlement of Te Awanga. Located near Cape Kidnapper, a well-known gannet colony. Shops, cafes, and wineries are all around the town.

Te Awanga also has a well-liked Farmyard Petting Zoo that attracts visitors of all ages. Fishing, swimming, surfing, and boating are popular activities.

The town’s lodging options are fairly restricted, but Te Awanga is a beautiful spot to stop for a picnic, a swim, or a surf.


Northern Hawke’s Bay is a town with a reputation for gangs. There is a delightful river walk, a cute repurposed lighthouse now a tourist attraction primarily for selfies and several shops famous for the kiwi meat pies.

The town is undergoing a resurgence and has several notable buildings supported by passionate local volunteers, including the Gaiety Cinema and Theatre.

Here are 5 Things to do in Wairoa that you must experience.

Wairoa River Parade walk, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Wairoa River Parade walk, Hawkes Bay
Waipawa heritage Theatre-building-Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Waipawa heritage Theatre-building-Hawkes Bay

Waipukurau and Waipawa

Waipukurau and Waipawa are two of the larger towns in Hawke’s Bay. They are only 6 km apart and are connected by State Highway 2. The Tukituki trail’s natural paths and gliding above in the stillness of vast open areas are among the visitor experiences.

A reflective space in the Forest of Memories is a wonderful location for guests to experience an arboretum honouring locals’ lives.

Top Sights in Waipukurau & Waipawa

  • A prospering community within agribusiness.
  • Central Hawke’s Bay (CHB) Settlers Museum with its extensive collection of nineteenth-century stories. Military memorabilia, as well as Maori artefacts from heritage sites throughout the district, are on display.
  • Local wine trails.
  • A 1993-founded arboretum called Forest of Memories is situated at the foot of Pukeora Hill, where each tree represents a memory. It is a reflective space where guests become absorbed in reading memory stories.
  • Lindsay Bush Scenic Reserve is a natural reserve home to many native animals and plants with mature trees up to 500 years old.
  • Taumata Hill sign with the official name, one of the world’s longest names for a place.
  • Dedicated mountain biking routes for riders of all abilities.

Here is a list of things to do in Waipukurau and Waipawa that will complete your Hawke’s Bay tourism.

@CHB Museum, Waipawa1
@CHB Museum, Waipawa

Northern Hawke’s Bay

Northern Hawke’s Bay is rural farmland with large areas of regenerating bush interspersed with the monotony of commercial pine forests.

The area is divided by the major highway, State Highway 2, from Wairoa to Napier. The landscape is broken by several scenic reserves worth a detour.

Esk Valley winery and vineyard. Hawke's Bay is the oldest wine region in NZ and the 2nd largest, New Zealand
Esk Valley winery and vineyard
  • The trestled Mohaka Viaduct at 97 metres is awe-inspiring. Simply pull over and gape at the railway crossing.
  • Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve is a large conservation area with various loop walking trails, including the extraordinary Bell Rock formations. One of the more popular walks is worth the stiff climb up to the stunning views of the mountain ranges and glimpses of the ocean.
  • Lake Tutira is an exciting bird sanctuary and definitely on any birdwatcher’s bucket list with a bird sanctuary. The bird sanctuary is home to scaup, black swans, grey ducks, shags, herons, fantails and pukeko.
  • Waipatiki beach is beautiful with its historic pre-European walking tracks, a surf beach and classic campgrounds.
  • Nearby are White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve and Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve offering visitors the joy of walking among giant tree ferns and native orchids.
  • Napier rolls into view with the Esk River vineyards heralding the fertile plains of Hawke’s Bay are close by.

Northern Hawke’s Bay is home to several walking tracks that take you through various landscapes, including forest and farmland, as well as past historic sites.

To better understand what is available, check our guide to North Hawke’s Bay Walks.

Beaches & Rivers in Hawkes Bay

Warm, dry summers and yummy food offerings at the local markets are the ideal combos for a few days or several at the beach. Water sports in Hawke’s Bay are one of the most popular summer activities. Water sports include swimming, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and boating.

Locals, largely from the North Island, throng camping grounds with their beachfront locations. Popular during the school holiday summer season from December to the beginning of February.

Here is a list of Camping Grounds in Hawke’s Bay. Check out whether you want a powered or unpowered site or the comfort of a standard ensuite motel-style unit. Forward bookings are essential in the busy summer months.

Surf at Mahia Beach, paddle at Ahuriri Estuary, surfcast from Waipatiki Beach or explore a coastal reserve. Hawke’s Bay beaches are ‘like no other, places inviting further exploration.

Here is a list of the Top Beaches in Hawke’s Bay where you can enjoy safe swimming, fishing and surfing.

Ahuriri boardwalk flying bird sculptures, Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Ahuriri boardwalk flying bird sculptures, Napier

Seawater Temperature

The seawater temperature in Hawke’s Bay ranges from 18°C to 20°C in February. It is coldest in August, with a range of 12°C to 14°C.

Click here to check out Marine Parade Water temperature.

Kayak McLaren falls to find glowworms, Bay of Plenty, NZ
Kayaking up mclarens falls Wairoa river - Tristan Balme Travel & Photography

Water Quality

The water quality in Hawke’s Bay is generally good, and the beaches are largely safe for swimming. Hawke’s Bay features five major rivers that all lead to the sea: the Wairoa River, Mohaka River, Tutaekuri River, Ngaruroro River, and Tukituki River.

The swimming water quality in Hawke’s Bay is monitored by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. It monitors 35 swimming spots in Hawke’s Bay, including 20 coastal beaches and 15 rivers. The monitoring season in Hawke’s Bay is from November 4 to March 31, and monitored sites are sampled weekly.

Click here to check out the water quality in Hawke’s Bay.

Festivals and Events in Hawkes Bay

Napier Art Deco Festival

Napier Art Deco Festival is one of New Zealand’s most well-known events. It is a celebration of all things Art Deco, the predominant architectural style in Hawke’s Bay from the 1920s to the 1940s.

The event features a range of activities, including vintage car displays, fashion parades, concerts, unique dining experiences and much more. Travel back in time and experience the glamour of the Art Deco era.

Napier Art Deco Festival takes place over four days in February every year. For event information and tickets, click here.

Art Deco Festival, Napier, New Zealand
Art Deco Festival, Napier

Wine Festivals and Events in Hawkes Bay

Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s most renowned wine regions. With over 80 wineries and cellar doors, there is plenty to explore.

Throughout the year, there are concerts in vineyards such as Mission Estate. Hastings is the venue for a number of festivals –

  • Bridge Pa Festival celebrates Gimblett Gravel’s vineyards award-winning wines, food producers and artisan arty-crafty creators.
  • Nest Fest is one of New Zealand’s very best indie festivals.
  • Hastings blossom festival (spring)
  • Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds in Hastings is the home to the annual NZ Horse of the Year show (March)

Maori Tours and Attractions in Hawkes Bay

@Waimārama Māori Tours
@Waimārama Māori Tours

Experience authentic New Zealand Maori culture with a unique insight into a day in the life of a Maori elder at Waimārama Māori Tours. You will learn about the local Hawke’s Bay area and its history from a Māori perspective. Tour includes ancient pa sites, Māori villages and a large collection of Māori carved meeting houses in Hawke’s Bay.

Hawkes Bay Weather

Hawke’s Bay generally has a temperate climate all year round. The region experiences high rainfall from June to September and low rainfall from December through March.

Summer lasts three months, from December to March, with daily high temperatures averaging around 22°C. February is the hottest month in Cambridge, with an average high of 25°C.

Winter lasts three months, from May to September, with an average daily temperature of less than 13°C. July is the coldest month in Cambridge, with an average low of 5°C.

For up-to-date weather conditions in Hawke’s Bay, click here.

Kareaara stream in the White Pine Forest reserve Hawkes Bay New Zealand
Kareaara stream in the White Pine Forest reserve Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay Accommodation

In summer, Hawke’s Bay is a popular camping destination for generations of New Zealanders enjoying the consistent warm summer. For camping grounds, check out Best Camping Places in Hawke’s Bay.

The city has several hotels and motels strung out along the Marine Parade for visitors focused on art deco architecture and Napier attractions.


Luxury Accommodation Hawkes Bay – Napier

Masonic Art Deco Hotel Napier has lush, elegant furnishings reminiscent of the roaring 1930s with glorious balcony views of the harbour, the Parade and Norfolk pines. The award-winning restaurant means fine dining is at your beck and call. There is plenty of choice for nightlife and dining options within walking distance of the hotel.

Hastings is a great choice for families with its budget-friendly motels, camping grounds and proximity to family-focused attractions such as Splash Planet. There are several cafes, bakeries and supermarkets, making family catering a breeze.

Havelock North, with its upmarket shopping, weekend markets, and access to Te Mata peak walks and vineyards, is a famous couple’s destination for short escapes or time out from the bustle of daily life.


Getting Around

Hawke’s Bay has a regional bus network; however, it is infrequent, with services either once or twice a day. The best way to get around is to cycle or your vehicle.

Domestic Airport

Napier is the home of Hawke’s Bay regional airport 8 kilometres north of the city centre. There are regular domestic flights from major New Zealand centres. There is a shuttle service from the airport.

Intercity Bus

Intercity provides Hawke’s Bay regional bus network. It arrives and departs from Clive Square bus depot with connections to Hastings.

Local buses

GoBay provides local bus service. Bus service connections between Hastings and Havelock North run several times a day. Local buses are fitted with bike racks.

How to Spell the Name of the Region?

Hawke’s, Hawkes, Hawke or HawkesBay

Hawke’s Bay – apostrophe or no apostrophe? James Cook, who came up with this name in 1769, first recorded it as ‘Hawke’s Bay’. A day later, he used ‘Hawkes Bay’, and the official map of the voyage uses the latter form. In those days, spelling and punctuation were often inconsistent.

Even though apostrophes are discouraged in place names, Hawke’s Bay became the official name for the region. This is because the “Hawke’s Bay” form was used in early statutes and official documents.

Even so, many people spell the name without an apostrophe. Further complicating matters, the Bay itself is called Hawkes Bay, following a conventional naming practice.

What is Hawkes Bay Maori Name?

Te Matau-a-Māui is the Maori name of Hawke’s Bay. Te Matau-a-Māui means ‘the fishhook of Māui’.

Storm sky with dramatic lighting in Waipawa, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Boundaries – Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is a long tract of land, bound by mountain ranges to the west and North, coast to the east, and the similar landscape of Wairarapa to the south. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council covers the Wairoa, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay districts and Napier city.

The area from Woodville, near the Manawatū Gorge, to Norsewood is now officially part of the Tararua district. However, it has strong historical links with the rest of the region and is commonly seen as southern Hawke’s Bay.

From Hawke’s Bay region.


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