Hikes and Walks in Hawke’s Bay
From the Art Deco streets of Napier to the wilderness walks around Lake Waikaremoana, it’s amazing the contrasts you’ll see in the Hawke’s Bay region on just your two feet.
Te Urewera Park offers one of New Zealand’s Great Walks around Lake Waikaremoana, amongst more than 20 other walking tracks in the conservation park with towering waterfalls and strange birdlife. On Hawke’s Bay’s coastline, you can take in epic views across the water while trawling to numerous beaches. We also can’t go without mentioning the most popular peak in the region, Te Mata Peak. The natural attraction draws hikers, mountain bikers and drivers alike. Make sure to read up on some more awesome bike trails in the region in Mountain Biking in Hawke’s Bay.
There’s a lot of history to be found in the North Island region too. Multiple hikes cross ancient Maori pa sites, which were once fortified living areas for New Zealand’s early settlers.
So take a look at the list below to find the perfect places to stretch your legs in the sunny region of Hawke’s Bay.
1. Lake Waikaremoana
Unique, challenging and truly mind-blowing, the Lake Waikaremoana Track has earned its spot amongst the prestigious New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. Located in the Te Urewera park, the track follows the shores of the huge lake, passing along waterfalls, cliff views and native trees. One of the main staples of the hike is definitely the views from Panekire Bluff, accessible on the first day of the hike.
Start: Base yourself in Wairoa and get a shuttle to the track or drive about 70km (43 miles) north of Wairoa along State Highway 78 to the beginning of the track.
2. Maraetotara Falls
Probably the most accessible falls in the Hastings area, it only takes 10 minutes to reach the Maraetotara Falls from the car park nearby. A couple of tracks surroundings the falls offers great views of the scenery through different angles and only takes a good half an hour to explore. But the most fun you will have is by jumping in the water on a hot summer’s day. Try launching yourself from the rope hanging above if you are brave enough.
Start: Head to Maraetotara Road in Hastings and look for one of the many signs.
3. Sunrise Hut
The track leading to Sunrise Hut is an easy ride through native forest. As its name hints, Sunrise Hut is famous for its stunning sunrise views over the ocean. The golden lights are both a challenge and a blessing for photographers. You can reach the hut in only 2 hours but if you would like to stay the night, note that the 20-bunk hut operates on a first-come-first-served basis, so get there early.
Start: The track starts at the end of the North Block Road at the west edge of the Hawke’s Bay region.
4. Kaweka Forest Park
The forest park encompasses many hikes, from the easiest like Kaweka Road to Makahu Saddle to the much harder, like the loop to “The Tits” and Rogue Ridge that includes multiple river crossings. It is definitely one of the best playgrounds for hikers in the area and is easy to spend a couple of weeks here exploring the many hikes available. To relax sore feet, head to the Mangatutu Hot Springs located at the campsite or, if you are keen on even more hiking, follow the track to the Magatainoka Hot Springs.
Start: A short drive northwest of Napier.
5. Te Mata Peak
There are as many as five hikes in the Te Mata Park and even a road for those that lack the time or energy to get up the peak. From the bottom, even the “Giant Circuit” only takes 2 hours return, so there are no excuses here. Te Mata Peak offers an extensive view of its surroundings and holds a great place in local Maori legends.
Start: From Havelock, take the Te Mata Road until you reach the Tauroa car park or keep on driving to get yourself to the top.
6. Boundary Stream Mainland Island Reserve
The reserve is home to many tracks ranging from 40 minutes return (the Tumanako Loop Track) to 5 hours one way, but our favourite has to be the Kamahi Loop Track with its wide-open views on cliff edges. Walk with no fear as the thick native bush protects you from falling off the cliff.
Start: From Tutira head to Pohokura road and follow the signs.
7. Waipatiki Beach Walk
The walk offers a great lookout over the vast stretch of golden sand that is Waipatiki Beach. The coastal forest, a typical landscape of the east coast of New Zealand, leads to those views that you “only see on postcards”. While you’re in the area, there’s the 45-minute drive to the Waipapa Falls Track featuring a 5-metre (16-foot) high waterfall. It is worth the 2-hour loop walk found around 13km (8 miles) down Aropaoanui Road.
Start: Drive north from Napier to Waipatiki Beach. The walk starts just before the beach.
8. Lake Tutira
This ancient seasonal Maori settlement contains six pa site (fortified Maori village) remains scattered around the lake. The Pera’s Walk explores the southeasterly section of the lake offering a lookout over rolling hills and farmlands and a slow walk around the Tutira Lake’s edge. The lake offers other walks including a 1-hour loop and a 3h30min loop amongst many other hikes. There is enough for a week!
Start: From Napier, drive 45 minutes north.
9. Otatara Pa Historic Reserve Walk
A pa is a fortified Maori camp where Maori tribes and warriors used to live before colonisation. Some were only seasonal settlements visited when the favourable season brought food to the area. Otatara was the biggest pa in the area, dominating other tribes. It is a great place to explore to learn more about this fascinating civilisation. The area also offers long stretched views from Napier to Cape Kidnappers, which is a landmark of the area.
Start: Between Napier and Hastings near Taradale.
10. Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony lodged over the cape’s cliff. The stunning site brings tourists from all over the world to witness this unique sight. Although it is more popular to reach the colony by tractor tour (more into on Viator and Tripadvisor), it can also be reached by foot. The 19km (12-mile) return walk along the beach is an easy one, but make sure you time your walk with low tide and be wary of rockfalls.
Start: Start your walk from Clifton at the far end of the holiday park and check the tide’s time on Metservice.