Ten Best Things to See and Do in the Hawkes Bay

The Hawkes Bay, on the central east coast of the North Island, is one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand. Centered around the cities of Napier and Hastings at the southern end of the bay, there are many memorable things to see and do in this part of the country. Here are ten highlights from the Hawkes Bay region.

  • 01 of 10

    Wine Tasting

    Hawkes Bay Vineyards
    Image Courtesy if New Zealand Wine Institute

    The Hawkes Bay is the second largest wine region in New Zealand. It is regarded as making some of the country's finest red wines, especially from the cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes. Spend a day visiting some of the many wineries and sample the wines. Several of the top ten wines of New Zealand come from the Hawke's Bay.

    Many of the wineries also have a cafe or restaurant, making them an ideal venue for lunch or a leisurely coffee.


  • 02 of 10

    Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony

    Two Australasian gannets (Morus serrator) necks entwined, Cape Kidnappers
    Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Kim Westerskov

    The spectacular cliffs which dominate the southern end of the Hawkes Bay coastline are known as Cape Kidnappers. They are home to the largest accessible mainland gannet colony in the world, with as many as 25,000 birds nesting during peak season.

    It is possible to get rather close to these magnificent birds. Take a guided tour (reached overland by 4WD vehicle or a tractor along the beach) or walk there yourself along the coast.

  • 03 of 10

    Napier Art Deco Buildings

    Napier Art Deco Buildings
    Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

    Napier has the biggest concentration of buildings from the 1930s in the art deco style of anywhere in the world outside of Miami. They are the result of a massive rebuild of the city when it was devastated by a large earthquake in 1931.

    Stroll through the center of Napier and see the variety of these many art deco buildings.

  • 04 of 10

    National Aquarium of New Zealand

    National Aquarium of New Zealand, Napier
    Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

    The National Aquarium is the largest collection of New Zealand marine and unique wildlife in the country. It includes many species of fish and coral, sharks, stingrays and land creatures such as the kiwi and tuatara.

    It is located on Marine Parade, along the Napier waterfront.

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  • 05 of 10

    Splash Planet Pools, Hastings

    Splash Planet Pools, Hastings
    Image Courtesy of Splash Planet Pools

    Splash Planet is an amusement and theme park that is a great day out for the whole family. Located in Hastings, a short distance south from Napier, it features pools, bumper boats, kayaks and a range of water slides

  • 06 of 10

    Hawkes Bay Beaches

    Hawkes Bay Beaches
    Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

    The entire sweep of the Hawkes Bay coastline features a number of individual beaches that are good for swimming and exploring. Amongst the best are Ocean Beach and Waimarama to the south of Napier and Tangoio Beach just to the north.

  • 07 of 10

    Marine Parade, Napier

    Marine Parade, Napier
    Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

    The coastline immediately in front of Napier City has been developed into a series of walkways, parks, and playgrounds. It's a nice place to go for a stroll and from which to admire the sweep of the bay and Cape Kidnappers.

  • 08 of 10

    Te Mata Peak, Napier

    View South from Te Mata Peak
    Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Kieran Scott

    Te Mata Peak is one of the highest points in central Hawkes Bay and gives magnificent 360-degree views of the bay and surrounding mountain ranges as plains.

    The peak itself is part of a 98-hectare park, offering many great tracks for walking or biking.

    Te Mata Peak is located near Havelock North, in the heart of some of the region's best vineyard countryside.

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  • 09 of 10

    Te Urewera National Park

    Bridal Veil Falls, Te Urewera National Park, North Island
    Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Jochen Schlenker

    This is one of the most remote and beautiful of New Zealand's fourteen national parks and the largest in the North Island. It is located in the northern Hawkes Bay, bordering the Bay of Plenty to the north.

    The park offers great tramping as well as hunting and fishing.

  • 10 of 10

    Lake Waikaremoana

    Lake Waikaremoana
    Image Courtesy of Tourism Eastland Inc

    Although a part of the Te Urewera National Park, Lake Waikaremoana deserves a special mention. This four-day walk is one of the nine Great Walks of New Zealand and traces the shoreline of one of the most beautiful lakes in the North Island.