Hawke’s Bay is an area in the east of the North Island, south of the Bay of Plenty and east of Taupo. This area is mainly known for its many vineyards. Cape Kidnappers is one of the highlights and the largest and most known cities in Hawke’s Bay are Napier and Hastings.
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Must see & do
In 1931, a massive earthquake destroyed the entire center of Napier. They then decided to rebuild the center in the style of the 1930s, that is still the case now. It is known as the most complete collection of Art Deco buildings in the world. It’s like a movie set and the best way to see it all is to just walk around town. Napier also has many wineries, nice restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
Hastings has also been rebuilt in the Art Deco style. This city has a lot of works of art that you can admire, including a collection of Maori statues on Clive Square. Orchards and vineyards surround the city. As a result, you see many fruit and vegetable stalls along the side of the road that sell fresh produce. Every Sunday morning they also have a “Farmer’s Market” with a wide variety of these fresh products.
If you go to New Zealand to taste the food and drinks you should definitely go to Hawke’s Bay. Sunny Hawke’s Bay is perfect for vineyards, it is therefore New Zealand’s second largest wine region. This area is known for good red wines such as Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, but also tasty Chardonnays are produced here. You can visit the vineyards by means of a tour or, as I explain below, by bicycle. Some vineyards also have a restaurant where you can taste the wines combined with delicious food so that the flavours come out even better.
Cycling in Hawke’s Bay is very popular, one of the reasons being that it is a fairly flat area. There are more than 200 km of cycle paths in the area. The trails are divided into themes: water, landscape and vineyards. So you can decide for yourself what you want to see during your bike ride. You can also combine several cycling routes to visit all the highlights of the area by bike.
Cape Kidnappers is located east of Hastings, it is half an hour drive from Napier or Hastings. This is the ideal place for bird watching as it is home to the largest and most accessible Gannet colony in the world. The road to it is also beautiful, it goes along a rugged coastline. Don’t have your own transport? Then visit Cape Kidnappers on a tour.
Te Mata Peak is a hill, from the top you can enjoy views of Hawke’s Bay, including Cape Kidnappers. On a clear day you can see the Ruapehu volcano in Tongariro National Park. You can walk up this hill, cycle or just drive up by car. If you are going to walk you can choose from 5 different hiking trails, the shortest is 40 minutes and the longest about 2 hours. The shortest does not go all the way to the top though but the longest route has several viewpoints. Cyclists can choose from 8 trails, all with different levels of difficulty.
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Hawke’s Bay is located in the east of the North Island of New Zealand, about 5 hours from Auckland and 4 hours from Wellington. The nearest international airport is in Wellington, but Napier has a small regional airport. Taupo is approximately 2 hours away, Gisborne 3 and Palmerston North 2.5 hours. Napier and Hastings both have bus stops where the big Intercity buses go. It is also only a 20 minute drive from Napier to Hastings.
Did you know …
Cape Kidnappers was named by Abel Tasman after the local Maori tried to kidnap one of his crew members there.
Gisborne is a diverse city with beautiful nature, many vineyards and places to surf. Did you know that Gisborne is the first place in the world to see the sun every morning, so it is also the first to celebrate the New Year and that is always a big party! Gisborne is also unofficially called the “Chardonnay capital of New Zealand”, making it ideal for wine drinkers. Old Maori traditions are still alive here and can be seen in many parts of the city.
Palmerston North is New Zealand’s eighth largest city, but it has a real urban vibe. There are many art galleries, theaters, pubs, cafes and restaurants, museums and events. For example, visit the New Zealand Rugby Museum or go to one of the many theater performances. Palmerston North is also surrounded by nature, so you can go to beaches, forests or mountains from here.
Taupo is mainly known for its large lake; Lake Taupo and its activities. Here you can swim, fish, paddle board, take a boat out on the water and even hit a ball into the water at the golf tee. Taupo is also known for the Huka Falls, this is an 11 meter high waterfall just outside the village, which is very impressive. Taupo is also a good place to stay if you are exploring Tongariro National Park for hiking the famous Tongariro crossing or for skiing in the winter. Read more about Taupo here.
The Marine Parade is a 3 km long road that runs along the city of Napier on the Pacific Ocean. You can walk or cycle this route. There is lots to see and do on this route. You can enjoy the black beach, see a lot of art along the way and there are many activities for families. In addition to many playgrounds, you can visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand, there is a children’s bike park, a skate park, a mini golf course and several public gardens.
Art Deco Weekend
Every third weekend in February the Art Deco Weekend takes place in Napier. This festival brings the 1930s back to life. Think of antique cars and airplanes, parades, matching clothing, Jazz music, dancing in the street, delicious food and locally produced wine. If you are in the area around that time you should definitely stop by!
Along the Wharekopae River you will find the Rere Rockslide, here a natural slide has been created. Here you can for free for an “adrenaline full” day, because it goes pretty fast! It is advisable to bring something that you can sit or lie on, such as a boogie board or a tire tube (inner tube). Keep in mind that the boogie board is much faster than the tire tube. This attraction is certainly not for everyone, it is not suitable for children and adults should also take into account that you can get some scratches and bruises. Also bring proper shoes as the road to it can be slippery. Enter Rere Rockslide on Google Maps to find the starting point.