Hawke’s Bay

The two main cities of this region, Napier and Hastings, each have their own unique charm. 

With a vibrant art scene and a rich Maori culture, this part of New Zealand is a delight for wine lovers, nature enthusiasts and history buffs. Thanks to ideal growing conditions, Hawke’s Bay is a hotspot for New Zealand wine.

It is also known for producing some of the country’s finest lamb and beef. You can sample both at the restaurant at Mission Estate, the oldest winery in New Zealand.

Take a tour of the many superb wineries in the region, including Church Road Winery and Ash Ridge – and bring home a bottle or two. As well as offering delicious wines, gorgeous scenery, dramatic coastal cliffs and historic Art Deco architecture, this region also hosts a number of great events throughout the year including jazz concerts and wine events. In February you can celebrate Art Deco Weekend – a time warp back to the 1930s with costumes, live music, food and entertainment.

Or, if you’d just like to relax, breath in the beautiful natural rolling hills on offer and take a short walk.

Hawkes Bay

Activities & Attractions


Hawke’s Bay has emerged in recent years as a culinary hotspot and many local eateries have dedicated themselves to serving up high quality local ingredients in a creative and innovative way, paired with superb local wines.

Check out Pacifica, a stylish restaurant offering high quality seafood and set in a blue bungalow overlooking the beach in Napier. After your lunch, treat yourself to some dessert from Silky Oak Chocolate Company – considered heaven on earth for Chocoholics.

Most of the big wineries offer acclaimed restaurants where you can dine in some of the most iconic landscapes and grapevines in New Zealand.

Elephant Hill Winery (pictured below) is a favourite, with spectacular views out to Te Awanga beach, as is Craggy Range, set below the jaw-dropping backdrop of almighty Te Mata Peak. Nestled in the heart of the famous Gimblett Gravels wine-growing area, Te Awa Winery Restaurant is a celebrated destination for lunch, as is the relaxed atmosphere amongst the vines at Clearview Estate, right on the coast in Te Awanga.

For fine wine lovers, the region is best known for it’s Merlot Cabernet blends and Syrah, and equally impressive Chardonnays. Aromatic whites are consistently acclaimed and plantings of Pinot Noir at cooler sites are producing a great drop.

Picture: Elephant Hill Winery

Elephant Hill Winery


Hawke’s Bay is a walkers paradise, as it offers beautiful trails for all ages and fitness levels and the views are spectacular.

One of the best places to walk is Te Urewera Park, where you’ll find a stunning walking trail around Lake Waikaremoana.

There are also 20 other scenic trails to choose from in this region, with unique birdlife and towering waterfalls. You can also take a stroll along the coastline of Hawke’s Bay, lined with beaches and stunning views.

If you are looking for somewhere gorgeous that you can get to quite easily – the beautiful Maraetotara Falls can be reached in 10 minutes from the car park nearby.

A visit to the Hawkes Bay cannot be complete without a walk (or drive) up to the top of the iconic Te Mata Peak, looking down over the incredible Tukituki River.

Te Mata Peak Hawkes Bay


Hawke’s Bay is known for its talented local artisans, so there are a lot of great opportunities here to find unique treasures.

Check out the Black Barn Grower’s Market and the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, where you can meet the local makers, taste test their wares and take home some unique artisan products. Then, go hunting for vintage items at the Napier Antique & Jewelry Centre, or the Department of Curiosities and Fine Things – so you can get in a retro mood while visiting this Art Deco town.


The museums in Hawke’s Bay are small, unique and quirky and give you an insight into local kiwi culture. You can learn about the early settlers of the region at the Central Hawke’s Bay Settler’s Museum. Or, visit the MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of art and artefacts.

You can also visit Napier Prison, a historic jail from the 1860s perched high on a hill overlooking Napier. A guided tour offers macabre tales of murderers, hangings and ghost sightings associated with this creepy spot – the oldest prison in New Zealand.

Napier Art Deco
Architecture lovers – take note. This is one of the best places in the world to see the styles of the Art Deco age. On a walking tour of Napier you can marvel at the pastel-painted facades, decorative fountain motifs, geometric ziggurats and elegant clean lines of this instantly recognisable 1930s aesthetic.

You’ll learn about how this unique Art Deco city rose from the rubble of the 1931 earthquake and you’ll discover that there is a fascinating story behind every building.

There’s even a popular annual festival that attracts people from far and wide, the ‘Art Deco Festival’. (Picture from Tourism New Zealand): MoaTrek has a special tour to the Art Deco Festival, read more about this special tour below.

Napier Art Deco Festival

History & Culture

Hawke’s Bay was a popular area for settlement over the years, because its warm, temperate climate and plentiful sunshine creates the ideal conditions for growing fruit and vegetables (and grapes for wine!). It also has abundant seafood, which was enjoyed by the indigenous Maori people.

The first European to arrive was Captain Cook, who landed in the area of current-day Napier in 1769. Napier was officially founded in the 1850s, after the Crown purchased land from the Maori people. It was named after Sir Charles Napier, a military leader.

Hastings was founded about a decade later and in 1874 a railway was built, connecting Napier to Palmerston North.

This was mostly an agricultural region and the orchards, market gardens, farms and vineyards were crucial to its prosperity. Today of course it is still very much a horticultural region, although these days tourism is also a major industry.

One of the most significant events in the history of Hawke’s Bay is the 1931 Napier earthquake. It completely levelled the town of Napier and left 258 people dead. The city was rebuilt in the predominant architectural style of the time – which was Art Deco.

It now boasts one of the most impressive and well preserved collections of this type of architecture in the world.

Key Facts

  • Getting around Hawke’s Bay is easy, as there are some great public transport options. The bus services include Intercity Bus, Mana Bus and GoBay regional bus service.
  • Cape Kidnappers Golf Course is set on a cliff overlooking the sea with dramatic views and it is known as one of the most challenging courses in New Zealand.
  • Cape Kidnappers is also known for being the largest and most accessible mainland colony of gannets in the world. You can see these incredible birds flying and nesting in the thousands along the rugged coastline.
  • This area was named by Captain Cook, after Admiral Edward Hawke who led the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759 and defeated the French.
  • The Mission Concert has been held every year at Mission Estate Winery since 1993 and has attracted big name performers such as Rod Stewart, Belinda Carlisle and the B-52s.

Hawke’s Bay with MoaTrek

We visit this region on our special tour to see the Hawkes Bay Art Deco Festival held every February. This tour includes the following activities and sightseeing:

  • Art Deco Festival events; Automobilia Vintage Car parade, evening events at the Soundshell, bathing belle parades, big bands and live jazz.
  • Drive Napier’s Art Deco trail with a specialist Art Deco guide.
  • Enjoy a tasting at Mission Estate’s acclaimed winery.
  • Browse the Antique Fair.
  • Visit the Hawkes Bay Farmers’ market.
  • Bluff Hill in Napier for the outstanding city and ocean views.
    Visit the pretty English-style village of Havelock.
  • Hawkes Bay landscape of orchards and vineyards.
  • Magnificent views across Lake Taupo to the three active volcanoes – Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
  • Enjoy a cruise on Lake Taupo to see Maori carvings.

Find out more about this tour.

Alternatively, most MoaTrek tours depart from Auckland which is just a short domestic flight away from the Hawkes Bay.

The MoaTrek team is more than happy to help you with suggested flight arrangements and you can explore the above activities at your own leisure.

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