Napier, Hawkes Bay – Our ‘Must Visit’ List

Hi everyone, this blog came about from a comment I had on my Instagram account. There are so many ‘things to do’ in Hawke’s Bay that I really am finding it hard to just name a few, however, this post is aimed at a family with a toddler and an infant so you may see that some attractions have been left out that are better suited for older children and adults.  But feel free to add in your recommendations in the comments section of this post. So here we go, this would be my ‘to visit’ list when showing a family with young children around Napier and Hawkes Bay.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand

This would be one of the main highlights of any trip to Hawkes Bay with children.   The Aquarium is home to vast array of fresh and saltwater fish, along with turtles, alligators, penguins, and Kiwi. Not to mention Sharks and Rays.    Throughout the day there are sessions when you can see or be part of feeding.   Below is the timetable.

Reef Tank 10.00am
Oceanarium (including the Sharks) 2.00pm
Penguins 9.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm

Easy parking, cafe, gift shop can cater for all your needs.   Feeding times do get busy, especially through the weekend and school holidays, so make sure you get their early so you find a spot to sit or stand. For more information please check out their website here.


Photo – The National Aquarium of New Zealand Photo Gallery Diver in the Oceanarium. 

The Strawberry Patch

This is just one of favorite places to visit in the summer, it has such a lovely atmosphere, in the shade of the huge Oak trees.   The Strawberry Season runs from October to May, but in the summer months, the strawberries are at their best, big fat and juicy. Over this time they have pick your own, which is really fun to do with young children, Strawberries always taste best when picked straight from the plant.   After we have picked strawberries we will stop and have a fruit ice cream, there are picnic tables and a few wooden ride on toys and horse swings for the kids to play on.  For more information please check their website here.

Park Island

There are loads of lovely parks in Hawkes Bay to explore, but one of our favorites is Park Island.   There is so much to explore in this park, it has easy access for a buggy to walk right around the islands and if you are buggy free there are a number of walking tracks that take you up through the islands.    Before the 1931 Earthquake, these were islands and a lot of the land here was tidal estuary or underwater.  There is evidence of this where you can see fossils and old shells.  Look out for painted rocks as this park is one of the favorites for Rock hunting.


The Marine Parade

Part and Parcel of a visit to Hawkes Bay is a walk down the Marine Parade.    Any day of the year this is a beautiful walk, but on a Sunny Hawkes Bay Day, it really is paradise.    Stop in at the various attractions, bike park with working traffic lights, the adventure playground.   Have an ice cream at Lick This Ice Cream Parlour then carry on to the sunken garden, sound shell and then look back towards the city from the viewing platform.

Birdwood Gallery and Cafe

I recently posted about Birdwoods Gallery and Cafe on our Facebook Page.  This is a great cafe especially on a warm day where you can sit outside. They have plunger coffee and yummy slices and cakes.  There is also a day menu, see their website for changing menu options.  There is a huge area for children to play freely, there is also and an area with sculptures that you can walk around, with giraffes, birds and a hippopotamus sitting in the pond.  Next to the cafe is a vintage style sweet shop.   Think old school lollies out of Roald Dahl books, definitely a must do for all children at heart.

Sweet Shop at Birdwoods – Photo Birdwood Gallery

The Picnic

This is one of personal favourite places to visit, and I recommend to everyone, all the time.   The Picnic is open |Thursday to Sunday (seasonal changes in days and hours check the website for updates).   Picnic offers delicious treats that basically you could pick up and take on a picnic.   Think decadent sweet treats, beautiful fresh bread, salads and celebratory cakes and chocolates.   They also serve All Press coffee which is up there with the best in Hawkes Bay.  To see flavor updates, check out their Facebook Page here.

Photo – Google Gallery

The Beaches:  Ocean Beach and Waimarama Beach

We are lucky in Hawkes Bay that we boast some of the best beaches in the country.   I can’t really pick my favorite but both Oceana and Waimarama are fabulous beaches to visit if you have the time.   Both offer safe swimming in the summer with Life Guards on duty.  You also don’t have to venture too far to get away from the crowds.  On your way out stop and grab a coffee at Red Bridge Coffee, serving Hawthorne Coffee.  Make sure you keep up to date with their social media as some weekends they have local gourmet food stalls on site serving lunch.

Red Bridge Cafe – Celebrating St Pats Day.

Alex Waimarama

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak stands roughly 400 metres above the Heretaunga Plains and is a special part of Hawkes Bay visually and culturally.  There are many walking tracks or drive to the summit to see the 360 views.  Sometimes you will see paragliders taking off from the platform at the summit.   The park is currently having some developments done so it will be interesting to see what this looks like in the near future.

Sunday Farmer Market

If you are staying Hawkes Bay over the weekend, the Hastings Farmers Market is a definite must visit.   You will get to try out many of the artisan foods that Hawkes Bay has to offer.  Along with fresh local produce, you will be able to taste, wine, chocolate, walnut brittle (my favorite), coffee, cheeses, and specialty bread.   In the summer months, the market is under the Oak Trees, such a relaxing atmosphere that you will want to stop and eat your brunch while listening to one of the weekly buskers performing.

So this is my list of things to do in Hawkes Bay, I could go on and on, but maybe there is room for another blog in the near future.  In the meantime check out Hawkes Bay for more information.

Let me know your favorite places to visit or take family and friends when they come to stay in The Bay! Visit us at Facebook and Instagram.


** Please note I have used some photos from website Galleries, these have been noted on the picture.




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