Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke's Bay© Hawke's Bay Tourism
Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke's Bay

Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke’s Bay

© Hawke’s Bay Tourism
Article Single Pages©
Article Single Pages©
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Natural Attractions in Hawke’s Bay You Can’t Miss!

With a mix of outstanding coastline and large tracts of wild native rainforest, Hawke’s Bay provides an awesome wilderness experience. The North Island region is famous for its beaches separated by rugged coastal cliffs, as well as the largest tract of native rainforest in New Zealand, Te Urewera. Lakes, waterfalls, coastal scenery, wildlife: they all make up the natural attractions in Hawke’s Bay!

Inland, you have the iconic Lake Waikaremoana, home to one of New Zealand’s Great Walks in the Te Urewera Rainforest. The Mohaka River is not only a breathtaking river gorge full of fossils, it makes an exciting white water rafting location. On the coast, don’t miss the world’s largest gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers or the beautiful beaches of the Mahia Peninsula!

So add these natural attractions in Hawke’s Bay to your bucket list!

1. Lake Waikaremoana

In the heart of the Te Urewera Rainforest, Lake Waikaremoana is a wilderness paradise. Numerous walks, including the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, take you around the perimeters of the lake surrounded by dense rainforest and stunning waterfalls. Discover caves, get out on the water and take a look at the underwater petrified forest and stay in the Department of Conservation huts where hut wardens can tell you the local Maori legends of the area. It’s a true wilderness experience. For more information, check out our Te Urewera Guide.

Location: Te Urewera

Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke's Bay©

2. Te Mata Peak

Walk, cycle or drive up to the amazing vantage point of Te Mata Peak. The walking track starts off in the redwoods and leads to the summit of Te Mata Peak. Enjoy 360-degree views over Hawke’s Bay. Find out more in 10 Wonderful Walks in Hawke’s Bay.

Location: Havelock North

Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke's Bay©

3. The Mahia Peninsula

Embrace the stunning coastline of the Mahia Peninsula. Pristine sandy beaches, awesome viewpoints along the road and from different hikes, a surfers’ and divers’ paradise: the Mahia Peninsula has a lot to offer. If you are lucky, you may even see a rocket launch from Rocket Lab. You won’t regret the detour off the main tourist route!

Location: Northern Hawke’s Bay©

4. Morere Hot Springs Scenic Reserve

Delve into the largest tract of nikau palm tree forest in New Zealand. You’ll feel like you are walking through a tropical paradise as you take one of the four walking tracks through the reserve. Plus, you can treat yourself to relaxing in the Morere Hot Springs, which is fed by a natural hot water spring, once you are done.

Location: Morere, Northern Hawke’s Bay©

5. Shine Falls

Get well off the beaten track to discover the beautiful cascading Shine Falls. An easy walking track (1h30mins) takes you through lowland forest full of birdlife, as well as farmland and beneath towering sandstone bluffs. A popular option is to bring your swimwear (or togs, as we say in New Zealand) to the falls. Alternatively, the 58m (190ft) falls make an awesome view while having a picnic.

Location: Tutira, Wairoa

Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke's Bay©

6. Ocean Beach

There are many stunning beached in the Hawke’s Bay area, we actually name a bunch of them in 10 Beautiful Beaches in Hawke’s Bay, but a standout is Ocean Beach. Ocean beach is backed by dunes and forested hills providing a breathtaking backdrop. It’s a popular beach with surfers and swimmers in summer.

Location: 20km (12 miles) south of Havelock North

Phillip Capper© Phillip Capper

7. Maraetotara Falls

Yes, another waterfall makes another stunning natural attraction in Hawke’s Bay! Maraetotara falls is a short detour up Maraetotare Road where there is a historic walk following the Maraetotara Stream. Head upstream through the native bush to the multi-tiered Maraetotara Falls or downstream to the old Havelock North Power Station, which operated until it was taken out by a lightning surge in 1941.

Location: Havelock North

PDTillman© PDTillman

8. Peka Peka Wetlands

A great place to see some of the most endangered and fascinating wetland birds in New Zealand is at the Peka Peka Wetlands. Just 10 minutes south of Hastings, take a walk on the network of boardwalks and pathways through historical hunting and fishing grounds for the local Maori. The wetlands are part of an ancient peat swamp believed to have formed around 9600BC – one of the oldest in New Zealand.

Location: Hastings

Rudolph89© Rudolph89

9. The Mohaka River

Not only is the Mohaka River a top white water rafting destination in New Zealand, but it is also a breathtaking natural attraction in Hawke’s Bay. Steep river gorges make up a scenic white water rafting trip with Mohaka Rafting (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Raft Fish NZ (on Viator and Tripadvisor), where ancient sea fossils can be seen embedded in the river rocks. Discover caves, waterfalls and sensational views the whole way on a white water rafting trip or enjoy the scenery from one of the Department of Conservation campsites.

Location: State Highway 2, Northern Hawke’s Bay©

10. Cape Kidnappers

Not only is Cape Kidnappers home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world, but the coastline also shows great displays of geological features. See fault line and distinct layers of rock in the vivid cliffs on the way to Cape Kidnappers. The end of Cape Kidnappers has stunning cliffs where hundreds of gannets nest. You can either walk to Cape Kidnappers at low tide or take a tractor tour. Find out more about the tractor tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Te Awanga, Hastings©


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.

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