Top 15 things to do in the Hawke’s Bay | Apollo Campervans 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. 

Hannah Klein
/ Categories: NZ blog

Things to do Hawkes Bay.

In this helpful guide, we share some of the top things to see in Napier, Hastings, and the wider Hawke’s Bay region.

From Art Deco delights to world-class wineries, there's no shortage of unforgettable places to visit in Hawke’s Bay. And there’s no better way to make the most of everything on offer in this region than to book an Apollo campervan hire for the ultimate road trip. With the freedom to roam, you can take your time and explore all the great things to see in the Hawke's Bay. 

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. In this helpful guide, we share some of the top things to see in Napier, Hastings, and the wider Hawke’s Bay region. Let’s get started.


1. Enjoy organic food at Chantal Shop

Need to stock up the fridge in your campervan hire? Hawke’s Bay has some fantastic food stores, and one of the best is Napier’s Chantal Shop. Situated in the heart of the city, this organic food store is a haven for health-conscious travellers. From fresh produce to artisanal bread, you'll find everything you need to create your favourite meals while you travel. Chantal Shop is also known for its commitment to sustainability and local produce, making it an ideal choice for those looking to make eco-friendly decisions while on the road. 

Image: Tourism New Zealand


2. Feel inspired at Boyd-Dunlop Gallery

Another gem in the list of great Napier places to visit is the Boyd-Dunlop Gallery. Located on Hastings Street, this contemporary art gallery is a must-see for art enthusiasts. Showcasing a diverse range of works from both emerging and established New Zealand artists, the gallery offers a rich visual experience that's sure to inspire. Whether you're into abstract art, traditional Māori designs, or cutting-edge installations, there's something for every artistic taste. 


3. Take an Art Deco tour

One of the most iconic things to see in Napier, NZ, is its stunning Art Deco architecture. For a deep dive into this unique aspect of the city, consider taking an Art Deco Tour. Your tour kicks off in the Art Deco Quarter and takes you to various landmarks, including Bluff Hill for panoramic views, historic Ahuriri, and the iconic National Tobacco Building. The tour even extends to the 1930s Art Deco suburb of Marewa, showcasing beautiful homes and gardens.


4. Enjoy local wine at Deco City Cellars 

The Hawke’s Bay is a wine lovers paradise. With more than 200 vineyards and 30 cellar doors, the hardest decision is where to start. To make it easy, book a tour with Winery Tours Hawke’s Bay. The tour not only allows you to taste exceptional local wines but also gives you the opportunity to talk to Hawke's Bay winemakers and winery owners. Choose a tour to suit from lunch and wine experiences to half-day tours across various wineries. 


5. Visit the Arataki Honey Centre

When it comes to unique places to visit in Hawke's Bay, the Arataki Honey Centre is a sweet spot you won't want to miss. Located just a short drive from both Napier and Hastings, this centre offers a fascinating insight into the world of honeybees and beekeeping. As you walk through the interactive displays, you'll learn about the different types of honey, the life cycle of bees, and the importance of these tiny creatures to our ecosystem. The centre also offers free honey tastings, allowing you to sample a variety of flavours. And if you're looking to take a piece of Hawke's Bay back home with you, their shop offers a wide range of honey products.


6. Relax at Waimarama Beach

If you're looking for a coastal escape, be sure to add Waimarama Beach to your list of must-visit places to see in Hawke's Bay. Located about 30 minutes southeast of Havelock North, this stunning beach offers golden sands and crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The area around Waimarama Beach is rich in Māori history. You can delve deeper into its cultural significance by booking a guided tour where you'll learn about the local iwi (tribe) and their ancestral stories.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


7. Dive into the National Aquarium of New Zealand

If you're fascinated by marine life, then a visit to the National Aquarium of New Zealand is a must-do on your Hawke’s Bay road trip. Located on Marine Parade in Napier, this is one of the most exciting Napier places to visit. Journey through the aquarium in the underwater tunnel. The 50-metre travelator does all the work for you, so you can just stand and watch as sharks, stingrays, and reef fish swim all around you. For something a little special, book into the Little Penguins Encounter where you’ll go behind the scenes and learn more about these cute little birds. 


8. Visit the Napier Art Deco Festival

If your travel plans are flexible and you're keen on experiencing something truly unique, try to time your visit with Napier's annual Art Deco Festival. Usually held in February, this is one of the most anticipated things to do in the Hawke’s Bay. The festival transforms the city into a lively celebration of the 1930s, complete with vintage cars, period costumes, and jazz music filling the air. One of the fun aspects of the festival is the opportunity to get dressed up in Art Deco style. The flexibility of campervan hire allows you to easily navigate the festival's various locations as well as other places to visit in Hawke's Bay before or after the festival.


9. Cycle the Hawke’s Bay Trails

If you love to explore on two wheels, then cycling the Hawke's Bay Trails is an activity you won't want to miss. These trails offer some of the best things to see in Hawke's Bay, all while enjoying the great outdoors. The network of trails spans over 200 kilometres and offers a variety of routes to suit all levels of fitness and experience. One popular option is the Water Ride, which takes you along the coastline, offering stunning views of the ocean and the chance to spot local wildlife. If you're more into the countryside, the Landscapes Ride takes you through orchards and farmlands, showcasing the region's agricultural richness. For wine lovers, the Wineries Ride is a must. It allows you to explore some of the region's most renowned wineries, making it a perfect blend of exercise and indulgence.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


10. Walk up Te Mata Peak

Love a good hike with rewarding views? Te Mata Peak is a must-add to your list of places to visit in Hawke's Bay. Located near Havelock North, this iconic peak rises 399 metres above sea level and offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside. The walk up to the peak is an experience in itself. You'll pass through native forests, open pastures, and rocky outcrops, each offering a unique perspective of Hawke's Bay's diverse landscapes. There are various tracks to choose from, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes, making it accessible for all fitness levels. Once you reach the summit, you'll find it's a popular spot for picnics, photography, or simply soaking in the views. 


11. See gannets at Cape Kidnappers

Located at the southern end of Hawke's Bay, Cape Kidnappers is home to the largest mainland colony of gannets in the world. Watch as they go about their daily routines of fishing, nesting, and socialising. Guided tours are available, often involving a thrilling ride along the beach in a tractor-trailer, followed by a walk to the gannet colonies. Once you arrive, you'll be amazed by the sheer number of birds and the bustling activity that takes place in the colony. It's a photographer's dream and a unique chance to observe these birds in their natural habitat.


12. Have fun at Splash Planet

If you're travelling with family or simply looking for a day of fun and relaxation, Splash Planet in Hastings is the place to be. This water theme park is one of the most entertaining places to visit in Hawke's Bay, offering a fun range of water-based attractions that are sure to keep everyone entertained. From thrilling slides like the Sky Castle Screamer to the relaxing Lazy River, there's something for every age and adventure level. And when you need some time out of the water, Splash Planet also has mini-golf, go-karts, Jungle Jeeps, and loads more. 


13. Discover one of the country’s oldest prisons

Interested in history with a bit of an edge? A tour of the Napier Prison is a worthy addition to your list of Napier places to visit. Located on Bluff Hill overlooking the city, this prison is the oldest penal complex in New Zealand. First opening its doors in 1862, it served as a prison until 1993 and has since been transformed into a unique tourist attraction. The prison offers various tours that take you through its storied past, from its role as a World War II internment camp to its reputation as a maximum-security facility. As you walk through the old cells, solitary confinement rooms, and even the hanging yard, you'll get a sense of the harsh realities that were faced by its inmates. It's a thought-provoking experience that adds a different dimension to your Hawke’s Bay road trip!


14. Go birdwatching at PekaPeka Wetlands

For nature lovers and birdwatching enthusiasts, the Pekapeka Wetlands is a must-do. Located just south of Hastings, this 98-hectare reserve is a haven for native birds and plants. The wetlands are an important habitat for a variety of bird species, including the New Zealand dabchick, royal spoonbill, and various types of shags and herons. The reserve has well-maintained walking tracks and viewing platforms, making it easy to explore and spot the local birdlife. Interpretive signage along the paths provides valuable information about the wetlands' ecological importance and the species that call it home. 


15. Visit the Otatara Pā Historic Reserve

Located near Taradale, the Otatara Pā Historic Reserve is steeped in Māori history and home to one of the largest and most important pā (fortified village) sites in the country. As you explore the reserve, you'll come across terraces, food storage pits, and defensive trenches that tell the story of a once-thriving Māori community. The reserve also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Heretaunga Plains and the Kaweka Ranges.


Where to stay in the Hawke’s Bay

Looking for a top spot to park up your campervan hire in Hawke’s Bay? Here are a few campgrounds worth adding to your travel itinerary:


Hawke’s Bay TOP 10 Holiday Park

Located in Hastings, the Hawke's Bay TOP 10 Holiday Park has everything you need for a comfortable stay, from powered sites for your campervan hire to communal kitchens and BBQ areas. It's also conveniently located near local attractions like Splash Planet and the local shopping centre, making it a great base for exploring the region.


Kennedy Park Campground

If you’re looking for a campground in Napier that the kids will love, Kennedy Park Resort will definitely tick the boxes. With a heated swimming pool, pedal cars, and even a Sky Theatre, they’ll be kept busy whatever the weather. And if you feel like taking the night off cooking, the onsite restaurant offers a great menu.


Waikaremoana Holiday Park

If you like the idea of exploring the natural beauty of Te Urewera, the Waikaremoana Holiday Park is the place to be. Nestled near the shores of Lake Waikaremoana, this park offers a tranquil setting surrounded by native forest. Facilities include powered sites, BBQ areas, and even a small shop for basic supplies. 


Explore what the Hawke’s Bay has to offer with Apollo

From stunning beaches to rich cultural experiences, the Hawke's Bay offers a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether you're a foodie, an art lover, a history buff, or an outdoor enthusiast, this region has something to captivate your interest. And what better way to explore all these wonders than with the freedom and flexibility of an Apollo campervan?

With a campervan hire in Hawke's Bay, you can tailor your itinerary to suit your interests, take the scenic route, and extend your stay at places that capture your heart. It's all about travelling at your own pace and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your ultimate Hawke's Bay adventure today and book your Apollo campervan hire online now.

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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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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.


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. 


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. 

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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



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.


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.


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:


Wider Hawke’s Bay

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