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10 Hawke’s Bay Must-Dos

Have fun in between seasonal jobs.

The region offers a huge amount of seasonal job opportunities throughout the year. The busiest seasons are November-December and February-May. For this reason, the area is extremely popular for backpackers in search of seasonal jobs in a vineyard or an orchard. But because most positions are available at short notice, you might have a few spare days to kill in between jobs. Do not fear, we’ve got you covered with our favourite things to do in the area.

Remote, often untouched and stuck in time, the Hawke’s Bay region has plenty to offer and should not be seen as only a place to make a quick buck. Spend time exploring its ins and outs and witnessing its unique sights. Simply “hanging out” at your hostel on your day off will seem pretty boring after reading the list below.

And remember, check out our Hawke’s Bay Guide and things to do in the summer in Hawke’s Bay for more inspiration.

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1. Sip delicious wines

The region is a premium wine producer, creating some of the most delicious wines of the country. It is actually New Zealand’s oldest wine region. Treat yourself to a vineyard visit or you can always grab a bottle at the market and sit it by the beach. Hungry? Grab a bite with your wine at the Napier Urban Food Market that takes place every Saturday morning.


2. Hike through forest, hills or beaches

Like any region of the country, exploring it by foot is more than just a treat! From the walk to the Te Mata Peak to the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk and a relaxing stroll on Waimarama Beach, you can easily find the trail that fits your pace. Tie up your hiking boots and wander! You will not be disappointed.


3. Embrace the Art Deco era

Napier is known in New Zealand as the “Art-Deco city”. The unique Art Deco architecture can be seen all around the city, which rebuilt this way after a huge earthquake destroyed most buildings in 1931. The Art Deco era especially comes back to life in February during the world-famous Art Deco Festival. The whole town dresses up like days of yore and parade in vintage cars.


4. Horse trek through the hills

Hawke’s Bay is like a huge backyard, just more epic. The long paths through the vineyards and the many hills are a perfect playground for horse riders of all levels – not too challenging; not too easy: just how we like it. One of our favourite tours leave from Hastings, as it has all of the above but also has a few forests that offer well-needed shaded areas for both horses and riders. Another one to check out is on the coast of Wairoa.


5. Watch the world’s first sunrise

Lodged on the east coast of New Zealand the region is one of the first to see the sunrise. (Only a few seconds after the East Cape). This makes this sunrise a world-first every morning. A very popular spot to witness this spectacle is Marine Parade in Napier.

 Phillip Capper on Flickr

6. Visit the Gannet Colony

The world’s largest mainland Gannet Colony is located on the cliff of the stunning Cape Kidnappers. The sight of thousands of birds is a great reminder that we are not alone on this planet. The gannets have travelled thousands of kilometres to come feast in the rich New Zealand waters. For the best chance to spot the colony, time your visit between November and February before the birds leave to escape the New Zealand winter.


7. Golf in one the world’s top golf course

In the same area, the prestigious Cape Kidnappers golf course is a must-stop if you have any golfing experience. The course is ranked in the TOP 40 best golf course in the world and features the most majestic scenery for a bit of putting. Golf aficionados, warm up your clubs!

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8. Spend time in Cape Kidnappers

If that wasn’t obvious enough, it is worth stopping by Cape Kidnappers. The dramatic cliffs and rock formations make for the best photo opportunities of the area. The peninsula is very easy to access at only a 30-minute drive from Napier and Hastings.


9. Check out the world’s longest place name

Taumata-whaka-tangihanga-koauau-o-Tamatea-turi-pukaka-pikimaunga-horonuku-pokai-whenua-kitana-tahu, means ‘The hilltop where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his koauau to his beloved.’ It is the world’s longest place name. To find it head to Porangahau. See here for more funny place names in New Zealand.

 russellstreet on Flickr

10. Bike remote trails

Hawke’s Bay is as easy to explore by bike as it is to explore by foot or horse. The area is relatively empty making it a giant playground for bikers. Both amateurs and expert bikers will find trails to suit them for a few hours to a full day. For a real downhill challenge, head to Te Mata Peak! Find out more in our Mountain Biking in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke's Bay Tourism - Richard Brimer

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