Top 10 things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Image: Art Deco Trust

Oak Estate Winery. Image: Kirsten Simcox

Lake Waikaremoana Track. Image: Joe Bird & Cat Smith

Te Mata Peak. Image: Kirsten Simcox

Mohaka Rafting

Top 10 things to do in Hawke’s Bay

The North Island’s balmy and bountiful wine country is all rolling hills and dramatic cliffs, with stunning Art Deco architecture you won’t find anywhere else. We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Hawke’s Bay, starting with the wine and the natural beauty.

Sip and indulge on a wine tour

The bay is world-famous for its wine, particularly its full-bodied reds and superb Chardonnays. Jump on a wine tour – there are several different options available – and hit all the highlights of New Zealand’s oldest and second-largest wine region. Or tour local wineries by bike: On Yer Bike Winery Tours provide all the gear you need for a self-guided tour and can help you map out your route.

Get amongst some massive rainforest scenery on Lake Waikaremoana Track

One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Lake Waikaremoana track takes you around the lake’s shores, through lush rainforest and past magnificent waterfalls, mighty rivers and ethereal valleys of mist. The region is the ancestral home of the Ngai Tūhoe tribe and is also the largest area of native forest in the North Island. The walk takes three to four days and you will need to book accommodation in the huts or campsites along the way.

Soak in the views from Te Mata Peak

Leg it up this beautiful and culturally significant peak for some of the best views of the Hawke’s Bay region. From the top you can gaze out over Napier, Māhia Peninsula, the rolling hills to the south and east, and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges. On a clear day you can see Mount Ruapehu in the distance. Explore the wider park for walking and biking tracks, orienteering, and natural marvels such as the hundred-year-old redwoods, limestone caves and marine fossils embedded in the rocky cliffs.

Hit the cycle trails

Rent some wheels and hit the many trails winding through scenic landscapes past wineries and along the coastline. Mountain bikers will find downhill action to get their pulses racing on Te Mata Peak or at Pan Pac Mountain Bike Park, while those looking for a relaxing ride on flatter ground should try Napier’s Puketapu Loop or the Tukituki Trail.

Take in the Art Deco Capital on a walking tour

Back in 1931, a massive earthquake basically razed the town of Napier, and the resulting rebuild in the architectural style of the time led to Napier’s now-iconic status as one of the most complete Art Deco cities in the world. Explore the fascinating and beautiful architecture of this unique city on a guided Art Deco walking tour of Napier’s highlights, or take a self-guided walk with the Art Deco Trust’s brochure or app.

Whisk yourself off to Cape Kidnappers

Towering cliffs, rugged rock formations, sweeping views, and the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. Head to the cape between November and February for your best opportunity to see these thousands of birds at full noise. And if you’re a golfer, Cape Kidnappers will likely already be on your list – the course here is one of the top golf courses in the world, designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak and famous for its stunning clifftop location.

Visit the penguins at the National Aquarium of New Zealand

Stretching along Napier’s Marine Parade is an exciting world above and below the water. The aquarium showcases a wide range of saltwater, freshwater and land animals including sharks, stingrays, water dragons, and a replica of Napier’s local Pania Reef. Don’t miss the aquarium’s famous Penguin Cove, and check out who’s been named the good and naughty penguin of the month!

Make a splash on the slides

The only water theme park in New Zealand, Splash Planet, is right here in Hastings, boasting all the water slides, inflatable obstacle courses, hot pools and theme park rides off and on the water you could possibly want. You can bring your own picnic or hire a BBQ and make a full day of it – the kids will love you for it! The park is open during the warmer months, from November to March.

Get adventurous with Mohaka Rafting

Take your adventure on the water, white-water rafting through the stunning Mohaka River gorge. You can choose from scenic half-day expeditions on grade 2 rapids, a grade 3 rafting adventure including opportunities to go swimming and cliff jumping, or a thrilling full day trip including grade 4 and 5 rapids. Mohaka Rafting also offers multi-day trips for a rugged experience of the beautiful wilderness.

Bust out the wide-angle lens for the longest place name

Attempt to get yourself and the ten-metre-long sign all in one photo if you can – Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is the longest place name in the world! It translates to ‘The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as “landeater”, played his flute to his loved one.’ The hill itself makes for a lovely scenic backdrop.

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