Hawke’s Bay

A sunny place to eat, drink and play

Hawke’s Bay

A sunny place to eat, drink and play

This sunny region in the centre of the North Island’s east coast is most famous as New Zealand’s oldest wine making region with a Mediterranean-like climate well suited to producing some fine Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah wines. This is wine touring country all right, and with around 100 vineyards and over 70 wineries in the region, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Hawkes Bay region marker

It’s not just about wine though, Hawke’s Bay has its fair share of outdoor adventures from kilometres of dedicated off-road cycle ways to multi-day hikes, including one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, Lake Waikaremoana. There are also numerous shorter walks or, for those looking for something a little for adrenaline-filled, there’s grade 2 and even grade 4/5 white water river rafting.

Although technically two cities, the Napier-Hastings area is the main urban centre in the region. Here are approximate travel times and distances to and from Napier.

Drive times

  • Auckland to Napier: 410 km / 255 miles – 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Taupo to Napier: 140 km / 87 miles – 2 hours
  • Wellington to Napier: 250 km / 155 miles – 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Napier to Gisborne: 210 km / 130m miles – 3 hours

Travel times can vary significantly, particularly in popular areas during peak visitor months (December – February). For current travel times and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, use the NZ Transport Agency journey planner before travelling. It’s always a good idea to allow extra time for photo stops and, when travelling longer distances, rest stops.

Flight times
Hawkes Bay Airport is a 10 minute drive from Napier city centre.

  • Auckland (AKL) to Napier, Hawke’s Bay (NPE): 1 hour
  • Wellington (WLG) to Napier, Hawke’s Bay (NPE): 55 minutes
  • Christchurch (CHC) to Napier, Hawke’s Bay (NPE): 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Blenheim (BHE) to Napier (NPE): 60 minutes

Sheltered from the west by mountain ranges and moderated from the east by the Pacific Ocean, Hawke’s Bay’s climate is generally warm, dry and Mediterranean-like. In fact Napier records some of the North Island’s highest annual sunshine hours.

In summer (December – February) the average high is 24 °C / 75.2 °F and average low is 14 °C / 57.2 °F. Winters (June – August) are cool but mild with an average high of 15 °C / 59 °F and an average low of 4 °C / 39.2 °F. That said, snow showers are not uncommon during winter months, brought on by cold southerly winds and frosts do occur on calm mornings.

Check current conditions and get the latest Napier weather forecast on MetService.com.

While there’s not much you can do about the weather once you’re here, it’s worth knowing what to expect at different times of the year and in different parts of the country. These two articles are well worth reading:

Top things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Hawke’s Bay region.

Climb Te Mata Peak

Rising 399m above sea level, this iconic peak offers 360° views of Hawke’s Bay and, on clear days, a view all the way to Mount Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest mountain over 120 km / 75 miles to the northwest. There are a number of tracks to suit different fitness levels and you can choose to walk or cycle.

Te Mata Peak

White water rafting on the Mohaka River

From their base just off State Highway 5 (SH5) approximately 50 km / 31 miles north of Napier, the team at Mohaka Rafting will take you into New Zealand’s backcountry to experience some watery fun. Choose a gentle half-day grade 2 scenic float or take on a grade 4/5 adventure through 200m high canyons.

Mohaka rafting

Cycle the Hawke’s Bay Trails

Winding their way across the Heretaunga Plains between Napier and Hastings, nearly 200 kilometres of wide, smooth and mostly flat cycle trails are the perfect way to explore the area’s rivers, orchards, vineyards and mountains. Trail maps and details on bike hire and everything else you need to know is available on the Hawke’s Bay Trails website.

Hawkes Bay Trails

Visit Lake Waikaremoana

Designated as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this 46 km / 29 mile multi-day hike follows the western shoreline of Lake Waikaremoana. Breathtaking views from high bluffs, giant native trees and remote beaches make this an epic adventure. Of the country’s 10 Great Walks, this is one of the least congested so if avoiding crowds is an important factor for you, this hike should definitely be high on your adventure to-do list. You can find out more information on this track on the Department of Conservation Website.

Lake Waikaremoana