Family Friendly Things to do in Hawke’s Bay | Apollo NZ
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Hawke's Bay

Looking for a New Zealand campervan holiday destination that ticks the boxes for sunshine, adventure, great food, and perhaps a little history and culture? You can’t go past Hawke’s Bay. This stunning region offers a taste of the good life amidst some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Whether you’re into adventurous hikes, wine tasting, or family fun, you’ll find plenty of great things to do in Hawke’s Bay.  

The appeal of the Hawke's Bay region lies not only in its charming townships such as Napier and Hastings but also in its natural attractions. The Hawke’s Bay weather is among the best in New Zealand, boasting plenty of sunshine that ripens grapes in its world-renowned vineyards and warms its expansive beaches. This climate makes the region a year-round destination for visitors looking to explore the outdoors whether on bike trails, on foot through its scenic reserves, or along its stunning coastlines.

Travelling by campervan allows you to take in everything Hawke's Bay has to offer at your own pace. Wake up to ocean views, spend your days discovering local markets or touring iconic wineries in Hawke’s Bay. In the evenings, enjoy relaxed sunset meals prepared in your campervan kitchen. And with plenty of Hawke’s Bay accommodation for campervan travellers, you’ve got the freedom to explore far and wide.

 

Why explore Hawke’s Bay by campervan

Exploring Hawke's Bay by campervan offers an unparalleled opportunity to dive deep into the region's offerings at your own pace. From the freedom to wander through the sunlit vineyards of Hawke’s Bay to parking along the coastlines near Napier, your campervan allows for a flexible, immersive travel experience. 

Travelling by campervan comes with heaps of perks that make the trip even better. Fancy cooking up some local produce from a roadside stall? You've got your own kitchen right there. Tired of hauling suitcases in and out of hotels? That's not an issue when your campervan acts as your base. You can also pack all the gear you need for outdoor fun – like hiking packs or surfboards – without worrying about space. And let’s not forget the convenience of having your own bathroom, which means no more hunting for public restrooms. It’s all about making your holiday as relaxed and enjoyable as possible.

 

Things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke's Bay is a playground for explorers, foodies, and culture enthusiasts alike. Immerse yourself in the rich history and Art Deco architecture of Napier. Sample some of New Zealand's finest wines. Or simply explore the natural beauty of the region's landscapes and coastlines. Whatever you’re keen to see and do, there's something here for everyone. 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Family Friendly Things to do in Hawke’s Bay.

Planning a campervan hire for a family getaway in Hawke's Bay? From exploring the charming streets of Napier to wildlife watching at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay ticks all the boxes for a New Zealand road trip destination, especially for families. 

Whether you're planning a leisurely holiday or an action-packed adventure, you won’t have to look too far to find fun things to do in Napier, Hastings, and beyond. To help you plan an unforgettable campervan travel itinerary, we’ve put together this helpful guide to the best family friendly things to do in Hawke’s Bay.

 

Where are Napier and Hastings?

Napier and Hastings are the two main townships of the Hawke’s Bay region. Located on the North Island's east coast, these neighbouring cities are about 20 kilometres apart, making them easily accessible as you drive New Zealand by campervan or motorhome.

Together, Napier and Hastings form a diverse and culturally rich area, offering a fantastic range of things to do for families. Whether you're interested in exploring historic sites, enjoying the local culinary scene, or soaking up the natural beauty, these cities are perfect stops on your New Zealand itinerary.

 

What’s Hawke’s Bay known for?

As one of New Zealand's leading wine-producing areas, Hawke's Bay is famous for its exquisite wineries and vineyards. The region's fertile plains and warm climate are ideal for growing grapes, making it a must-visit for wine connoisseurs. Alongside its excellent wines, the area offers a fantastic array of fresh produce and artisanal food experiences.

Napier is renowned for its unique Art Deco architecture, offering a glimpse into a bygone era with its beautifully preserved 1930s buildings. This architectural charm is complemented by stunning natural landscapes, from the majestic Te Mata Peak to golden sand beaches, providing endless opportunities for outdoor activities in Hawke's Bay.

 

The best way to explore Hawke’s Bay?

Hitting the road in Hawke's Bay with your family in an Apollo campervan is not just fun, it's super convenient! Here's why cruising around in a camper is the best way to soak up all the cool stuff Hawke's Bay has to offer:

  • With a campervan, you call the shots. Want to linger a bit longer at that awesome beach? No problem. Kids want to check out another fun playground? Easy. You've got the freedom to change plans whenever you like.

  • Your motorhome is like a little home on wheels. It's got all you need – beds, a kitchen, and even a lounge area. Forget the hassle of checking in and out of motels. You don’t even have to unpack!

  • Travelling in a campervan can be kinder on your wallet. You're not spending heaps on hotels, and you can whip up your own meals. Plus, the kids get a kick out of the simple things – like hot chocolate under the stars.

  • Hawke's Bay is stunning, and with your cosy camper, you're right in the heart of it. Park up at amazing campsites, wake up to birds singing, and have picnics right outside your door.

  • There's something special about being on the road together, exploring somewhere new. It's all about teaming up, having laughs, and making those unforgettable family memories.

  • Whether it's exploring Napier's cool art deco streets, tasting the local goodies, or hanging out at the beach, your campervan lets you tailor your trip to what your family loves the most.

Image: Tourism New Zealand

 

Family-friendly things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Ready to start planning the ultimate family holiday? Here’s our list of the best family activities in Napier and Hastings.

 

1. Take a Napier Art Deco tour

One of the must-do family activities in Napier is the Napier Art Deco Tour. This tour offers a fascinating insight into how Napier became known as the Art Deco Capital of the world. It's a fascinating 90-minute journey that takes you through the city's historic timeline, sharing stories and showcasing the transformation following the infamous 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake.

The journey begins in the Art Deco Quarter, then heads to Bluff Hill for views over land reclaimed after the earthquake. It also includes visits to historic Ahuriri and the iconic National Tobacco Building, and a trip through the 1930s Art Deco Suburb of Marewa, showcasing homes and gardens.

This tour is a fantastic way to dive into Napier's unique history and architecture, making it a perfect addition to your New Zealand itinerary when exploring in a campervan.

 

2. Check out the National Aquarium of New Zealand

A visit to the National Aquarium of New Zealand is a must-do for families exploring Napier in a campervan. Stretching along Napier’s Marine Parade, this impressive facility resembles a giant stingray and is home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater, and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world.

The aquarium offers a unique and educational experience for all ages. You can start your visit with the reef fish feeding at 10 am, followed by the little penguins feeding at various times throughout the day. And at 2 pm, watch the the oceanarium diver hand feeding fish.

 

3. Have fun at Marine Parade

An iconic Napier tourist attraction, Marine Parade is a bustling hub of activity for families. Stretching for around 3 km along the seafront, this iconic promenade offers breathtaking views – from Mahia Peninsula in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south.

Originally developed in 1889 with a sea wall to prevent flooding, Marine Parade is packed full of family friendly activities catering to all ages. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • A bike pump track and a junior bike track – perfect for cycling enthusiasts.

  • The expansive playground, which has separate areas for bigger kids and little ones.

  • Par2 Mini Golf – a fun and engaging activity for all ages.

  • The iconic Pania of the Reef statue and an ocean viewing platform – ideal for sightseeing and photo opportunities.

And when hunger strikes, the area is lined with a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants, and ice cream shops – something to satisfy everyone's taste buds! 

 

4. Have a blast at Splash Planet

For a day full of fun and excitement, Splash Planet in Hastings is the place to be. With thrilling water rides and slides, this fun water park is the perfect spot to cool off and have a blast. The park also features a variety of dry attractions, so there's plenty to do even if you want to stay out of the water.

For the adrenaline junkies in the family, rides like the Double Dipper and Sky Castle Screamer offer heart-pounding excitement. If you're after something a bit more laid-back, the Lazy River and indoor heated pools provide a perfect spot to relax and unwind. Younger kids will be thrilled with the safe and fun water play at Toddler Island and the Pirate Fortress, while the whole family can enjoy a competitive round of mini golf or a leisurely ride on the Fantasyland Express.

With additional attractions like bumper boats, jungle jeeps, and a flying fox, there's no shortage of fun activities to fill your day. Splash Planet is not just a water park; it's a full-on family adventure destination, making it a top pick for things to do in Hawke's Bay on your New Zealand road trip.

 

5. Make new friends at Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo

A visit to Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo is like stepping into an animal lover's paradise, and it's a fantastic spot for families visiting the region in a campervan. This place isn't your typical zoo – it's a hands-on, super-friendly spot where you can get up close with all sorts of farm animals.

From familiar farmyard friends like pigs, sheep, and calves, to more exotic creatures like ostriches, turtles, alpacas, and peacocks, there’s plenty to see. Springtime is especially magical here with many baby animals being born.

There's also a great playground for the kids, and you can buy food to feed the animals as you wander around. For those who love horses, the zoo offers pony rides for children from two years onwards, right up to adults.

It's a perfect stop for a family day out, adding a bit of animal magic to your New Zealand road trip and ticking off one of the coolest things to do in Hawke's Bay.

 

6. Discover Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve

Exploring Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is a must-do for nature lovers on a New Zealand road trip. Gannet Safaris Overland offers an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with these fascinating seabirds in their natural habitat.

The tour starts at Te Awanga base, where you'll hop onto a 4WD vehicle and take on a journey through pristine coastline, working farms, and native bush, leading to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned nature reserve. At the top of Cape Kidnappers, you’ll encounter over 20,000 gannets. It's a mesmerising sight to see these birds nesting, preening, dancing, and diving into the sea. The safari not only offers a chance to observe these champion divers but also provides stunning views of the vast Pacific Ocean and the beautiful landscapes of Aotearoa.

 

7. Treat yourselves at Silky Oak Chocolate Company

Treating yourselves at the Silky Oak Chocolate Company is a sweet highlight for families exploring Hawke's Bay in a campervan. Located in Taradale, Napier this delightful destination is heaven for chocolate lovers, complete with a café and an intriguing chocolate museum. Indulge in the exquisite, handcrafted chocolates and fudges – delicious! The range of gourmet products doesn't stop at sweets; you'll also find a selection of homemade relishes, chutneys, and vinaigrettes.

At the Silky Oak Chocolate Museum, you can take a fascinating journey through the history of chocolate and see a huge collection of chocolate-related goodies including a 2500-year-old Mayan chocolate pot.  

 

8. Bike the Hawke’s Bay’s trails

Biking through the Hawke's Bay trails is an awesome way to explore the region's stunning landscapes. Whether you're looking for a gentle ride with the family or a more challenging adventure, Hawke's Bay offers a variety of cycling options to suit all interests and skill levels.

The region's climate is ideal for year-round cycling, and you'll find that almost any type of bike can be hired locally, making it easy to find the perfect ride for your journey. One of the best parts about cycling in Hawke's Bay is that there's almost always a café or cellar door near your destination. So, after a day of pedalling through beautiful scenery, you can quench your thirst and refuel with some delicious local goods.

 

9. Try some gnarly tricks at Bay Skate

Got kids who love to skateboard or scooter? Make sure they bring them along. Bay Skate in Napier is a paradise for skateboarding, BMX, scootering, and all things roller sports. The kids will be stoked with the wooden ramps and concrete bowls. And for those who are just starting out or prefer a gentler ride, the flat rink is perfect. It's all about having a great time, whether they’re nailing new tricks or just cruising around. The vibe at Bay Skate, located on Marine Parade, is super family-friendly too. It's an awesome way to add some active fun to your New Zealand road trip. 

 

10. Have a sweet time at Arataki Honey Visitor Centre

The Arataki Honey Centre is an un-BEE-lievable experience for families on a New Zealand road trip. Located in Havelock North, this visitor centre is all about discovering the fascinating world of honey and the precious bees that make it.

The kids will have fun dressing up as a beekeeper, snapping some cool 3D pics, and getting up close with buzzing bees in a safe and fun way. It's a great spot to learn about honeymaking, see the bees at work, and of course, taste their delicious honey.

Image: Tourism New Zealand

 

Family friendly holiday parks in Hawke’s Bay

Now you’ve got some great ideas for family activities in Hawke’s Bay to add to your New Zealand itinerary, let’s take a look at where to stay in your campervan hire.

 

Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park

Nestled in the heart of Hastings, the Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park is a family-friendly paradise. This park is the perfect choice for families seeking a traditional campground experience with a twist of fun. The park includes a playground, BBQ area, free WiFi, a TV/Recreation room, laundry, and more. Recreational gear hire is also available, adding to the fun. 

 

Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park

Set on nine acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with direct beach access, the Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park is ideal for families. The park is equipped with upgraded facilities including new BBQ areas and a revamped communal kitchen. The adventure playground with trampolines and a new jumping pillow will be popular with the kids. With its beachfront location and close proximity to Napier’s attractions, this holiday park offers the best of both worlds – a superb park camp setting with outstanding coastal access.

 

Ready to explore Hawke’s Bay?

As you can see, Hawke’s Bay has something for every family. And the best way to experience it all? By exploring in the freedom and comfort of an Apollo campervan. Ready to plan your unforgettable Hawke’s Bay holiday? Book your campervan hire online today and get ready for the ultimate New Zealand road trip.

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 Popular Hawke’s Bay road trips & itineraries

Located on the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island, Hawke's Bay is easily accessible from major cities including Auckland and Wellington. Setting off from Napier, the heart of Hawke's Bay, you can delve into the area's renowned Art Deco architecture, explore the dramatic cliffs of Cape Kidnappers, or indulge in a tasting tour through its famous vineyards. Whether coming down from Auckland or making your way up from Wellington or even the South Island, Hawke’s Bay is perfectly poised to offer an unforgettable New Zealand road trip. 

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Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 

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Apollo Campervan branches

Auckland

Departing from Apollo Auckland, you’re perfectly positioned for a half-day drive to Northland & the Bay of Islands. This route ensures a seamless blend of scenic beauty and local culture, culminating in the stunning landscapes of Northland.

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Northland & the Bay of Islands sets you up for a scenic multi-day journey across the South Island, including the picturesque ferry crossing at the Cook Strait, and into the North Island. 

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore as much of New Zealand as possible? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and take your time heading northward over an epic 10-14 days taking in some of the great southern highlights along the way. 

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Hawke's Bay

 

Climate and seasons in Hawkes

Hawke's Bay is known for its consistently warm and dry climate, making it a favoured destination throughout the year. The region's weather complements its reputation as one of New Zealand's premier wine-growing areas, with long, sunny days that nurture vineyards and invite outdoor adventures.

  • Summers (December to February) in Hawke's Bay are typically warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C. This is the perfect time for beach outings at places like Waimarama or Ocean Beach, and for enjoying al fresco dining in Napier or Hastings. The warm weather also makes this a peak season for exploring the region’s numerous vineyards and wineries.

  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler temperatures and the landscape bursts into vibrant colours, especially in the vineyards where the leaves change hues against a backdrop of crisp blue skies. The mild weather is ideal for hiking and cycling through the region's parks and reserves.

  • Winter (June to August) sees cooler days with temperatures generally between 10°C and 15°C. Although colder, the days are often clear and sunny, providing perfect conditions for visiting indoor attractions like the Art Deco buildings in Napier or the Hawke's Bay Museum.

  • Spring (September to November) rejuvenates the region with fresh blooms and gradually warming temperatures. It's an excellent time to witness the orchards in blossom and to enjoy the late spring events that celebrate the region’s produce and wine.

Hawke's Bay's sheltered position in the rain shadow of the central mountain range means it receives less rainfall than many other parts of New Zealand, but packing a rain jacket is still advisable. The pleasant climate in spring and autumn, along with the vibrant seasonal changes, make these particularly delightful times to visit.

 

 

What to pack?

Preparing for your campervan adventure in Hawke's Bay calls for smart packing to make the most of the region's sunny climate and abundant outdoor activities. From relaxing on its beautiful beaches to touring its famous wineries, here’s what you should consider bringing along:

  • Outdoor gear: Hawke's Bay's varied landscapes, from coastal paths to vineyard trails, demand versatile outdoor gear. Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing to keep cool during warm days, and include a layer or two for the cooler evenings – perfect for enjoying a night under the stars. Sturdy walking shoes are a must, whether you’re exploring the streets of Napier or hiking the trails at Te Mata Peak.
  • Campervan add-ons: To enhance your campervan experience, think about including a few extras. A portable barbecue is great for cooking up local produce as you enjoy panoramic views of the bay, and additional camping chairs and a table will make your setup outside the van more comfortable and inviting.
  • Sun protection: Given Hawke's Bay's reputation for being one of the sunniest areas in New Zealand, good sun protection is essential. Pack a high-SPF sunscreen, sunglasses with UV protection, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun, ensuring you can safely enjoy the great outdoors throughout your trip. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

Attractions and day trips in Hawke's Bay

 

Napier

A city reborn from the 1931 earthquake, Napier is renowned for its beautifully preserved Art Deco architecture. Strolling through the city, visitors can enjoy vibrant street art, boutique shops, and waterfront cafes that make Napier a cultural gem worth exploring.

Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers is famous for its dramatic coastal cliffs and as the home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world. A guided tour offers a chance to see these magnificent birds up close and enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak provides panoramic views of Hawke's Bay and is a must-visit for anyone wanting to capture the beauty of the region from above. Hiking trails range from easy to challenging, catering to all fitness levels.

Wineries

Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's oldest wine regions, famed for its Bordeaux blend reds and rich Chardonnays. Visiting local wineries for tastings and tours is an indulgent way to experience the area's gourmet offerings.

Art Deco Tours

Take a step back in time with an Art Deco tour in Napier. These guided tours, often available on foot or by vintage car, highlight the city's unique history and architectural heritage, celebrating the style that defines the region.

Beaches

Ocean Beach and Waimarama Beach are pristine stretches of sand perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and long beach walks. Both beaches offer a tranquil escape with stunning ocean views, ideal for a relaxing day by the sea.

Havelock North

Havelock North is a picturesque village known for its artisanal food scene, boutique shopping, and the lush Te Mata Park. Its charm and scenic setting make it a delightful stop for those exploring the greater Hawke's Bay area.

 

Where to stay in Hawke's Bay with a campervan

When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest in Hawke’s Bay, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds. Here are a few worth checking out:

Napier

Wider Hawke’s Bay

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