10 Hawke's Bay Must-Dos© Gannet Safaris Overland - Hawke's Bay Tourism
10 Hawke's Bay Must-Dos

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke’s Bay

© Gannet Safaris Overland – Hawke’s Bay Tourism
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

The Top Activities and Attractions Across the Hawke’s Bay Region

From luxury experiences, like playing on New Zealand’s most prestigious golf course and visiting various wineries, to backpacker opportunities like fruit picking and free walks to waterfalls, Hawke’s Bay has something for every traveller. Whether you’re in this region for a couple of days of your North Island road trip or staying awhile on a working holiday, these are the best things to do right across the Hawke’s Bay region – from Napier to Waipukurau!

1. Sip Delicious Wines at the Hawke’s Bay Wineries

The Hawke’s Bay region is one of the most popular winemaking regions in New Zealand! It would almost be a sin to not get out there and taste the local wines in the heart of where it is all made. Plenty of tour operators, such as Vines and Views or Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours, can take you on a winery crawl from the Napier area. Alternatively, do a self-guided tour by bike or car (just don’t drink and drive) to cellar doors offering tastings and tours, such as Church Road, Mission Estate and Brookfields Vineyards, as listed in the 10 Best Wineries in Hawke’s Bay. After a few glasses, this will be your favourite thing to do out of all the Hawke’s Bay activities!

Location: All over the Hawke’s Bay region. See the link above for specific winery locations. Wine tours usually offer pick-up.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Hike Through Forests, Hills or Beaches

Like any region of the country, exploring it by foot is more than just a treat! From the walk to the Te Mata Peak to the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk and a relaxing stroll on Waimarama Beach, you can easily find the trail that fits your pace. Tie up your hiking boots and wander! You will not be disappointed. Check out our 10 Best Walks in Hawke’s Bay and Northern Hawke’s Bay for extensive lists.

Location: All over Hawke’s Bay – see the links above for walks and their specific locations.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Embrace the Art Deco Era

Napier is known in New Zealand as the “Art Deco City”. The unique Art Deco architecture can be seen all around the city, which was rebuilt this way after a huge earthquake destroyed most buildings in 1931. Pick up a self-guided walk brochure from the Art Deco Trust Centre or Napier i-SITE to do a self-guided tour of the city. Alternatively, book your walking tour with the Art Deco Trust or a vintage car tour with Avantogo Tours or Deco City Discoverer.

The Art Deco era especially comes back to life in February during the world-famous Art Deco Festival. The whole town dresses up like days of yore and parade in vintage cars. Discover more summer events in the 10 Ways to Make the Most of Summer in Hawke’s Bay.

Location: All over Napier city centre. Art Deco Trust Centre – 7 Tennyson Street. Napier i-SITE – 100 Marine Parade. Other tours – accommodation/cruise ship pick-ups available.

10 Hawke's Bay Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Horse Trek Through the Hills

Hawke’s Bay is like a huge backyard, just more epic. The long paths through the vineyards and the many hills are a perfect playground for horse riders of all levels. One of our favourite tours leaves from Hastings, Boutique Horsetreks, as it has all of the above but also has a few forests that offer well-needed shaded areas for both horses and riders. Another one to check out is on the coast of Wairoa with Out on a Lim.

Location: Boutique Horsetreks – 5 Stafford Street, Hastings. Out on a Lim – 109 Iwitea Road, RD6, Wairoa.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Visit Cape Kidnappers and its Gannet Colony

The world’s largest mainland gannet colony is located on the cliffs of the stunning Cape Kidnappers. Reaching the Cape Kidnappers’ gannet colony and best coastline views can only be achieved at low tide by following the Cape Kidnappers Track (see link for track updates) from Clifton or take an easy-going yet informative tour with Gannet Safaris Overland also nearby Clifton. Learn more about the walk and bus tour to the colony in the 10 Best Things to Do in Hastings.

Location: Clifton, Te Awanga.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Tee Off at One of the World’s Top Golf Courses

In the same area, the prestigious Cape Kidnappers Golf Course is a must-stop if you have any golfing experience. The course is ranked among some of the best golf courses in the world and features the most majestic scenery for a bit of putting. Golf aficionados, warm up your swing! Learn more about the course and how it compares to the 21 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.

Location: 446 Clifton Road, Te Awanga.

10 Hawke's Bay Must-Dos© Jacob Sjoman - Tourism NZ

7. Check Out the World’s Longest Place Name

Taumata-whaka-tangihanga-koauau-o-Tamatea-turi-pukaka-pikimaunga-horonuku-pokai-whenua-kitana-tahu means “The hilltop where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his koauau to his beloved“. Most know it as the world’s longest place name! For more characterful place names, check out the 10 Funny Place Names in New Zealand.

Location: Winbledon Road, Porangahau.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Hawkes Bay

8. Cycle Remote Trails

The Hawke’s Bay region is incredibly well connected with cycle trails making it one of the best ways to explore the area. For a gentle cycle along the coast, take the Water Ride. Or discover more of the landscapes and tastes of the region with the cruisy Landscapes Ride or Wineries Ride. For something more adventurous, we recommend biking at Te Mata Peak or Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park. Find further information on all these cycle trails and more in our Mountain Biking in Hawke’s Bay.

Location: All over Hawke’s Bay – see the link above for specific locations.

10 Hawke's Bay Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Culture Yourself at MTG Hawke’s Bay

If you are looking for what to do in Hawke’s Bay on a rainy day, this is the thing. Get your museum fix at MTG Hawke’s Bay! Learn about Hawke’s Bay’s history, the story of the earthquake, the Maori heritage and more in this museum. The museum is also a theatre and art gallery with ever-changing exhibitions and shows. What’s more, entry is free! See more experiences like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Napier.

Location: 1 Tennyson Street, Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Visit the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market

For an affordable foodie experience, get yourself down to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market. The market is a classic Kiwi experience with markets just like this one happening all over the country every weekend. There are lots of free tastings of local produce, as well as live music and other entertainment. The Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market is every Sunday between 8:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Location: Kenilworth Road, Waipatu, Hastings.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

11. Experience a Maori Cultural Tour in Waimarama

If you are looking to venture further off the beaten track, consider heading to the small coastal town of Waimarama. Not only is it home to a stunning beach, but Waimarama Maori Tours offers an authentic Maori experience to learn more about New Zealand’s indigenous culture and visit significant Maori sites around the area. This is one of the most engaging Napier attractions. See more experiences like this in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Napier.

Location: Waimarama, approximately 50 km (31 mi) from Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

12. Go White Water Rafting on the Mohaka River

Looking to get wet and tackle the most epic of all the Hawke’s Bay attractions? For a wilderness adventure experience near Napier, check out white water rafting on the Mohaka River! Choose from a grade 3 or grade 5 white water rafting experience with heaps of cliff jumps, river floats, tunnels, waterfalls and more in between tackling some epic rapids. Check out white water rafting tours with Mohaka Rafting! Plus, find out more at our 7 Places for White Water Rafting in New Zealand.

Location: 3408 State Highway 5, Te Pōhue.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

13. Walk or Drive to the Top of Te Mata Peak

Get some of the best views in the Hawke’s Bay region from the top of the 399 m (1,309 ft) Te Mata Peak. In fact, the whole area is a park with both mountain biking and walking trails to embrace the enchanting countryside scenery and exotic forest. Either enjoy the great outdoors by walking to the top or drive to the top.

Location: Te Mata Peak Road, Tuki Tuki.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

14. Check Out the Pekapeka Wetlands

Wetlands are an underrated landscape in New Zealand. They are hugely valuable to the ecosystem and harbour a wealth of diverse wildlife! In short, if you like bird watching or just want to experience an alternative landscape, then the Pekapeka Wetlands are ideal. The area covers 90 ha (222 acres) making it the largest inland wetlands in Hawke’s Bay. Make use of the easy walking tracks with interpretation signs to learn a little something while you’re there!

Location: 901-903 State Highway 2, approximately 16.4 km (10 mi) from Hastings.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Rudolph89 on Wikipedia

15. Enjoy Wakeboarding, Paddleboarding or Kayaking at Backpaddock Lakes

Just north of Waipukurau is a water playground that any adventure-seeker just can’t refuse! Backpaddock Lake is a watersports activity centre with wakeboards, SUP boards, kayaks, waterskis and more – all you have to do is bring your “togs”! Try out their cable wakeboarding system allowing you to skim the waters with no expensive motorboats required!

Location: 314 Speedy Road, Ashley Clinton.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Hawkes Bay

16. Visit Otatara Pā

Otatara Pā is one of the best examples of remaining pā sites (Maori fortified villages) in New Zealand. A 45-minute walk around the reserve allows you to see archaeological features, as well as soak in commanding views of the surrounding region.

Location: Springfield Junction, Taradale.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Noel O on Wikipedia

17. Check Out the Old-Timey Transport of the Faraday Museum of Technology

If you find yourself in Napier on a rainy day, with kids in tow or are just curious about vehicles and technology of yesteryears, check out the Faraday Museum of Technology. Discover the technology and transport that shaped New Zealand, where the museum encourages you to interact with the exhibitions to learn about the items, rather than the usual reading. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Napier on a Rainy Day.

Location: 2b Faraday Street, Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

18. Stretch Your Legs on the Ahuriri Estuary Walk

Just moments from Napier city centre and accessible to all, the Ahuriri Estuary Walk is a one-hour venture across flat boardwalks and well-formed tracks across an estuary full of birds, fish and other mud-dwellers. There are also some interesting pou (carved Maori poles) to see along the way.

Location: Humber Street, off Pandora Road, Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Hawkes Bay

19. See the Honeybees in Action at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre

A food experience suitable for all ages awaits in the nearby Havelock North where you’ll find the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre. The centre is home to one of New Zealand’s top honey brands where you can learn about the honeybee, their role in the food chain and how they make honey. Watch the bees at work through the observation hives and taste the good stuff! What’s more, the attraction is free! For more experiences nearby, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Havelock North.

Location: 66 Arataki Road, Havelock North.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Hawkes Bay

20. Admire Maraetotara Falls

Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? If you haven’t seen enough waterfalls in New Zealand, then make sure you head to Maraetotara Falls on the beautiful Maraetotara Falls bush walk. The short walk takes you through native forest to a cascading waterfall, or follow the walk downstream to see the old Havelock North Power Station, which was taken out by a lightning surge in 1941.

Location: Maraetotara Road, Maraetotara.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© itravelNZ® on Flickr

21. Hike to the Sunrise Hut

Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle. 
The Sunrise Track is an easy ride through the native forest. As its name hints, Sunrise Hut is famous for its stunning sunrise views over the ocean. You can reach the hut in only two hours but if you would like to stay the night, note that the 20-bunk hut requires bookings for most of the year. Learn more about the experience in our guide to New Zealand Hut to Hut Hiking.

Location: North Block Road, Wakarara, approximately 45 km (28 mi) inland from Waipukurau and Waipawa.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Peter Sim - Hawke's Bay

22. Walk to Stunning Waterfalls in the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle. 
Some easy-going walks just north of Napier lie within the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve. There are two fantastic waterfall walks; Te Ana Falls only takes 30 minutes’ return, while Tangoio Falls is a 60-minute return where you can cool off in the pool. There’s also the 2-hour Tangoio Walkway for those looking for more of an adventure through various types of forests. Be careful on the stream crossings on this last walk. For more walks to discover, check out the 10 Best Walks in Hawke’s Bay and Northern Hawke’s Bay.

Location: Tangoio, State Highway 2.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

23. Get Spooked at the Napier Prison

The scariest, spookiest and funniest Hawke’s Bay attraction is the Napier Prison. That’s right, Napier is home to one of the creepiest places in New Zealand! Napier Prison offers self-guided tours with audio handsets to make your way through New Zealand’s oldest prison, established in 1862. Learn stories of famous New Zealand prison inmates and visit their old cells. There are costumes to get dressed up for some hilarious photos!

Location: 55 Coote Road, Bluff Hill, Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

24. Treat Yourself to a High Tea Experience

Complementing the historic ambience of Hawke’s Bay, there are a few sumptuous high tea experiences to be treated to. Dine in the historic homestead of Mangapapa with finger sandwiches, dainty cups of tea and an array of sweet treats. The venue offers high tea seven days a week in Havelock North. Alternatively, stop by Oruawharo Homestead & Gardens in Central Hawke’s Bay for one of the “High Tea Days” with delicious and well-presented sandwiches, scones, hot savouries, sweets and even wine or bubbles. For more upscale experiences, take a look at the 10 Luxury Experiences in Napier.

Location: Mangapapa – 466 Napier Road, Havelock North. Oruawharo Homestead & Gardens – Takapau.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Hawkes Bay

25. Check Out the Views from Bluff Hill

The most prominent Napier attraction is Bluff Hill. Get your bearings and a few awesome photo opportunities from the top! The steep climb (don’t worry, you can drive it) takes you to the site of a World War II battery. A plaque commemorates the presence of the soldiers at the site, while there are plenty of seating areas and garden displays to enjoy while taking in the views of Napier city and the Port of Napier. The lookout is about 7 minutes’ drive/35 minutes’ walk from the city centre.

Location: End of Lighthouse Road, Bluff Hill, Napier.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

26. Spend a Summer’s Day at Splash Planet

If you’re visiting Hawke’s Bay region in summer, don’t miss the outdoor waterpark Splash Planet! Based in Hastings, Splash Planet not only has an array of fun waterslides and water playgrounds for all ages, but they also have hilarious bumper boats, a lazy river, go-karts, kayaking, a train ride, mini golf and much more. Get ready for a fun-filled day ahead! Note that this attraction only opens for the summer season.

Location: 1001 Grove Road, Parkvale, Hastings.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Kirsten Simcox - Hawke's Bay

27. Go to the Beach

With a sunny climate and stunning coastline, Hawke’s Bay is blessed with a wealth of beaches. Some of the closest to Napier and Hastings are Ahuriri Beach, Haumoana Beach and Ocean Beach, while Waimarama and Black Head Beach are worth the extra drive. Take your pick from 10 Beautiful Beaches in Hawke’s Bay for a great day out.

Location: All over Hawke’s Bay – see the link above for specific locations.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

28. Visit the Hastings City Art Gallery

To get your dose of art and culture, visit the Hastings City Art Gallery in Hastings city centre. The free-entry art gallery has ever-changing exhibitions from both local and international artists. For more free attractions, take a look at the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Hastings.

Location: Nelson Street, Hastings.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Tony Hisgett on Wikipedia

29. Watch the World’s First Sunrise

Lodged on the east coast of New Zealand, the Hawke’s Bay region is one of the first to see the sunrise (only a few seconds after the East Cape). This makes this sunrise a world-first every morning. A very popular spot to witness this spectacle is Marine Parade in Napier, Te Mata Peak, or any one of the beaches we list in the 10 Beautiful Beaches in Hawke’s Bay.

Location: Marine Parade, Napier. Te Mata Peak – Te Mata Road, Tuki Tuki. Or see the link for more locations.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© Unsplash

30. Dine at Hawke’s Bay’s Delectable Restaurants

Wrapping up our list of the best things to do in Hawke’s Bay as you might wrap up any day in the region, treat yourself to some exquisite dining at the local restaurants. For instance, don’t miss Hunger Monger in Napier specialising in seafood exclusively from the North Island’s east coast. For naughty treats, head to Mister D open for breakfast, brunch and dinner, also in Napier. Meanwhile, in Havelock North, don’t miss the acclaimed Malo serving rustic yet refined cuisine in an attractive courtyard setting. We have much more recommendations in The Food Guide to Napier!

Location: Hunger Monger – 129 Marine Parade, Napier. Mister D – 47 Tennyson Street, Napier. Malo – 4 Te Aute Road, Havelock North. See the link above for more recommendations and their locations.

30 Best Things to Do in Hawke's Bay© NZPocketGuide.com

More Things to Do in Hawke’s Bay

That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Hawke’s Bay, but it’s by no means the end of our recommendations. Check out the following articles for more trip-planning inspiration:

Finally, find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?