4 reasons why you should visit Hawke’s Bay

Why visit Hawke’s Bay?

New Zealand’s Te Matau-a-Māui/Hawke’s Bay is located in the east of the North Island. A Mediterranean climate, with average temperatures between 7 and 25 degrees Celsius all year round, and soils suited to horticulture, viticulture and agriculture make it a significant food producer and a great place to spend time. The region is known for Art Deco, the food and wine industry and the Gannet Colony east of Hastings at Cape Kidnappers amongst many reasons people visit Hawke’s Bay.

No wonder this is a favourite year-round spot for Kiwis and tourists alike, and a popular destination for We Tour New Zealand Tours. You will certainly relax and have a good time here, not to mention enjoying the amazing local produce on offer with a local vintage… Hawke’s bay is a must-visit for gastronomes and a desirable destination for just about any traveller.

Art Deco Festival

Art Deco

Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s Art Deco Capital, hosting an annual festival celebrating the distinctive style of the 1930s. The architectural style is a feature of the Napier and Hastings cityscapes.

Art Deco is an amalgam of different styles and art movements from the twentieth century combined. Look for pronounced decorations, traditional motifs, rich colours and geometric figures. You can see this today in the form of decorative and applied arts, architecture, interior design, visual arts and clothing fashion.

The Hawke’s Bay Earthquake

It all started on February 3, 1931 for Hawke’s Bay. In the morning, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. The result was devastating.

Many people died and the earthquake destroyed many local buildings. Then a fire broke out that could not be extinguished for more than a day. This destroyed the wooden buildings that were still standing after the earthquake.

In the two years that followed, 111 new buildings were constructed in the downtown area. In Napier, the streets were widened and existing services improved. Because the Art Deco style was very popular at the time, this had a major influence on the rebuilding of Napier and Hastings. And the centre of Napier is almost completely built in this style.

Art Deco Festival

To commemorate the tragic events of 1931, “Art Deco Festival Napier” is held every February. You can clearly see how Hawke’s Bay has become a vibrant and creative region again. Visitors from all over the world come to Napier to be part of this festival. There are plenty of free activities, but paid tickets sell out well in advance usually.

If you can’t be there in February, a guided tour through the city is also a meaningful learning experience that will give you a new appreciation of Art Deco as a style.

Elephant Hill Winery


Hawke’s Bay is not only the oldest wine region in New Zealand, but also the second largest. The first vineyards date back to the late 1800s and you can even find wineries minutes from the city centre of Napier and the region offers 30 or more cellar door experiences.

Wineries are often located on north-facing slopes on river valleys and terraces and along the coastline to the south. And many are within a fairly short drive from Napier. making the region ideal for wine tours. Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are abundant here.

But driving between the various wineries is not your only option. You can also take a bicycle wine tour in the region.

Hint: are you up for a challenge? Then the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail – a 200km long road through Hawke’s Bay might be for you. Hawke’s Bay is just the first stop. On the way, you can stop at more than 30 cellar doors. Driving or biking the whole trail, which goes from Napier to Blenheim, takes you 5 days and 485km.

Two of our favourite wineries in Hawke’s Bay are Church Road Winery and Elephant Hill Winery.

Church Road Winery

Dating back to 1897, Church Road is one of the oldest wineries in New Zealand. The winery is located just south of central Napier, in Taradale. Red, white, rose and sparkling wines; it’s all here. Join one of the events hosted here, dine or treat yourself to a tasting while enjoying your time in the lovely gardens. 

Elephant Hill Winery

The Elephant Hill Winery is located on the Pacific Ocean. By way of contrast with more-historic Church Road, Elephant hill will celebrate 20 years in operation in 2023. Everything they do is inspired by the Pacific Ocean, Cape Kidnappers and the breathtaking views of the nearby Te Awanga coastline. In addition to red, white and rose wines, they also make olive oil here. Again, you can do a tasting here, but there is also accommodation available for the full experience.


Food for flavour

The 30 cellar doors also include restaurants. The food here varies enormously. From fine dining to fresh berry ice creams to gourmet cuisine, there is something for everyone. In addition, there is also a Farmers Market in Hastings every Sunday morning and in Napier and the Black Barn Vineyard on Saturday morning.

The many restaurants, some of New Zealand’s best food events and the production of fresh ingredients reflect the importance of food production and preparation for Hawke’s Bay as a region. Two of the iconic food events are the Urban BBQ Festival and F.A.W.C (food and wine classic). Throughout the year, the Hawkes Bay website is a handy tool to see when and where events are.

Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers

The Gannet colony

Hawke’s Bay

At the tip of Cape Kidnappers — named after an unfortunate incident between local Maori and Captain Cook’s Endeavour in 1769 —  you’ll find a Gannet Colony that you won’t forget in a hurry.  With up to 25000 birds, this is the world’s largest, and most accessible gannet nesting area from September to April each year.

The Australasian Gannet is a large seabird that belongs to the Gannet family Sulidae. Any New Zealander who has spent time off Aotearoa’s coast fishing will tell you that they can dive into the ocean from a height of up to 30 meters. Their dives into water, hunting fish they have spotted from above, are nothing short of spectacular and their ability to ride air currents around the coast is majestic to witness. Living for up to 40 years Gannets are territorial and known to fly across the Tasman to Australia in search of food before returning to the colony of their birth to breed.

With such colonies usually difficult to reach, this is an attraction for dedicated birdwatchers and anyone with an interest in nature’s wonders. Guided tours offer you a chance to be as little as 2 meters from the birds in their natural habitat — awe-inspiring for young and old. You will see them looking for food and feeding their babies with food found around Cape Kidnappers. We recommend tours from Gannet Safaris.

Ready for a good time?

These are, of course, not the only activities to do in the Hawke’s Bay region. These attraction are simply the most popular ones and unmissable. Are you in the region for a longer period of time? TripAdvisor, Hawke’s Bay Tourism’s website or Tourism New Zealand are great places to find out other attractions to enjoy on a visit to “the Bay”.

Want more information? Have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you find answers to questions you may have about visiting Hawke’s Bay or find the right tour to take you there!