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Family Friendly Things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Family Friendly Things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Planning a campervan hire for a family getaway in Hawke's Bay? From exploring the charming streets of Napier to wildlife watching at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay ticks all the boxes for a New Zealand road trip destination, especially for families. 

Whether you're planning a leisurely holiday or an action-packed adventure, you won’t have to look too far to find fun things to do in Napier, Hastings, and beyond. To help you plan an unforgettable campervan travel itinerary, we’ve put together this helpful guide to the best family friendly things to do in Hawke’s Bay.


Where are Napier and Hastings?

Napier and Hastings are the two main townships of the Hawke’s Bay region. Located on the North Island's east coast, these neighbouring cities are about 20 kilometres apart, making them easily accessible as you drive New Zealand by campervan or motorhome.

Together, Napier and Hastings form a diverse and culturally rich area, offering a fantastic range of things to do for families. Whether you're interested in exploring historic sites, enjoying the local culinary scene, or soaking up the natural beauty, these cities are perfect stops on your New Zealand itinerary.


What’s Hawke’s Bay known for?

As one of New Zealand's leading wine-producing areas, Hawke's Bay is famous for its exquisite wineries and vineyards. The region's fertile plains and warm climate are ideal for growing grapes, making it a must-visit for wine connoisseurs. Alongside its excellent wines, the area offers a fantastic array of fresh produce and artisanal food experiences.

Napier is renowned for its unique Art Deco architecture, offering a glimpse into a bygone era with its beautifully preserved 1930s buildings. This architectural charm is complemented by stunning natural landscapes, from the majestic Te Mata Peak to golden sand beaches, providing endless opportunities for outdoor activities in Hawke's Bay.


The best way to explore Hawke’s Bay?

Hitting the road in Hawke's Bay with your family in an Apollo campervan is not just fun, it's super convenient! Here's why cruising around in a camper is the best way to soak up all the cool stuff Hawke's Bay has to offer:

  • With a campervan, you call the shots. Want to linger a bit longer at that awesome beach? No problem. Kids want to check out another fun playground? Easy. You've got the freedom to change plans whenever you like.

  • Your motorhome is like a little home on wheels. It's got all you need – beds, a kitchen, and even a lounge area. Forget the hassle of checking in and out of motels. You don’t even have to unpack!

  • Travelling in a campervan can be kinder on your wallet. You're not spending heaps on hotels, and you can whip up your own meals. Plus, the kids get a kick out of the simple things – like hot chocolate under the stars.

  • Hawke's Bay is stunning, and with your cosy camper, you're right in the heart of it. Park up at amazing campsites, wake up to birds singing, and have picnics right outside your door.

  • There's something special about being on the road together, exploring somewhere new. It's all about teaming up, having laughs, and making those unforgettable family memories.

  • Whether it's exploring Napier's cool art deco streets, tasting the local goodies, or hanging out at the beach, your campervan lets you tailor your trip to what your family loves the most.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Family-friendly things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Ready to start planning the ultimate family holiday? Here’s our list of the best family activities in Napier and Hastings.


1. Take a Napier Art Deco tour

One of the must-do family activities in Napier is the Napier Art Deco Tour. This tour offers a fascinating insight into how Napier became known as the Art Deco Capital of the world. It's a fascinating 90-minute journey that takes you through the city's historic timeline, sharing stories and showcasing the transformation following the infamous 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake.

The journey begins in the Art Deco Quarter, then heads to Bluff Hill for views over land reclaimed after the earthquake. It also includes visits to historic Ahuriri and the iconic National Tobacco Building, and a trip through the 1930s Art Deco Suburb of Marewa, showcasing homes and gardens.

This tour is a fantastic way to dive into Napier's unique history and architecture, making it a perfect addition to your New Zealand itinerary when exploring in a campervan.


2. Check out the National Aquarium of New Zealand

A visit to the National Aquarium of New Zealand is a must-do for families exploring Napier in a campervan. Stretching along Napier’s Marine Parade, this impressive facility resembles a giant stingray and is home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater, and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world.

The aquarium offers a unique and educational experience for all ages. You can start your visit with the reef fish feeding at 10 am, followed by the little penguins feeding at various times throughout the day. And at 2 pm, watch the the oceanarium diver hand feeding fish.


3. Have fun at Marine Parade

An iconic Napier tourist attraction, Marine Parade is a bustling hub of activity for families. Stretching for around 3 km along the seafront, this iconic promenade offers breathtaking views – from Mahia Peninsula in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south.

Originally developed in 1889 with a sea wall to prevent flooding, Marine Parade is packed full of family friendly activities catering to all ages. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • A bike pump track and a junior bike track – perfect for cycling enthusiasts.

  • The expansive playground, which has separate areas for bigger kids and little ones.

  • Par2 Mini Golf – a fun and engaging activity for all ages.

  • The iconic Pania of the Reef statue and an ocean viewing platform – ideal for sightseeing and photo opportunities.

And when hunger strikes, the area is lined with a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants, and ice cream shops – something to satisfy everyone's taste buds! 


4. Have a blast at Splash Planet

For a day full of fun and excitement, Splash Planet in Hastings is the place to be. With thrilling water rides and slides, this fun water park is the perfect spot to cool off and have a blast. The park also features a variety of dry attractions, so there's plenty to do even if you want to stay out of the water.

For the adrenaline junkies in the family, rides like the Double Dipper and Sky Castle Screamer offer heart-pounding excitement. If you're after something a bit more laid-back, the Lazy River and indoor heated pools provide a perfect spot to relax and unwind. Younger kids will be thrilled with the safe and fun water play at Toddler Island and the Pirate Fortress, while the whole family can enjoy a competitive round of mini golf or a leisurely ride on the Fantasyland Express.

With additional attractions like bumper boats, jungle jeeps, and a flying fox, there's no shortage of fun activities to fill your day. Splash Planet is not just a water park; it's a full-on family adventure destination, making it a top pick for things to do in Hawke's Bay on your New Zealand road trip.


5. Make new friends at Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo

A visit to Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo is like stepping into an animal lover's paradise, and it's a fantastic spot for families visiting the region in a campervan. This place isn't your typical zoo – it's a hands-on, super-friendly spot where you can get up close with all sorts of farm animals.

From familiar farmyard friends like pigs, sheep, and calves, to more exotic creatures like ostriches, turtles, alpacas, and peacocks, there’s plenty to see. Springtime is especially magical here with many baby animals being born.

There's also a great playground for the kids, and you can buy food to feed the animals as you wander around. For those who love horses, the zoo offers pony rides for children from two years onwards, right up to adults.

It's a perfect stop for a family day out, adding a bit of animal magic to your New Zealand road trip and ticking off one of the coolest things to do in Hawke's Bay.


6. Discover Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve

Exploring Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is a must-do for nature lovers on a New Zealand road trip. Gannet Safaris Overland offers an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with these fascinating seabirds in their natural habitat.

The tour starts at Te Awanga base, where you'll hop onto a 4WD vehicle and take on a journey through pristine coastline, working farms, and native bush, leading to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned nature reserve. At the top of Cape Kidnappers, you’ll encounter over 20,000 gannets. It's a mesmerising sight to see these birds nesting, preening, dancing, and diving into the sea. The safari not only offers a chance to observe these champion divers but also provides stunning views of the vast Pacific Ocean and the beautiful landscapes of Aotearoa.


7. Treat yourselves at Silky Oak Chocolate Company

Treating yourselves at the Silky Oak Chocolate Company is a sweet highlight for families exploring Hawke's Bay in a campervan. Located in Taradale, Napier this delightful destination is heaven for chocolate lovers, complete with a café and an intriguing chocolate museum. Indulge in the exquisite, handcrafted chocolates and fudges – delicious! The range of gourmet products doesn't stop at sweets; you'll also find a selection of homemade relishes, chutneys, and vinaigrettes.

At the Silky Oak Chocolate Museum, you can take a fascinating journey through the history of chocolate and see a huge collection of chocolate-related goodies including a 2500-year-old Mayan chocolate pot.  


8. Bike the Hawke’s Bay’s trails

Biking through the Hawke's Bay trails is an awesome way to explore the region's stunning landscapes. Whether you're looking for a gentle ride with the family or a more challenging adventure, Hawke's Bay offers a variety of cycling options to suit all interests and skill levels.

The region's climate is ideal for year-round cycling, and you'll find that almost any type of bike can be hired locally, making it easy to find the perfect ride for your journey. One of the best parts about cycling in Hawke's Bay is that there's almost always a café or cellar door near your destination. So, after a day of pedalling through beautiful scenery, you can quench your thirst and refuel with some delicious local goods.


9. Try some gnarly tricks at Bay Skate

Got kids who love to skateboard or scooter? Make sure they bring them along. Bay Skate in Napier is a paradise for skateboarding, BMX, scootering, and all things roller sports. The kids will be stoked with the wooden ramps and concrete bowls. And for those who are just starting out or prefer a gentler ride, the flat rink is perfect. It's all about having a great time, whether they’re nailing new tricks or just cruising around. The vibe at Bay Skate, located on Marine Parade, is super family-friendly too. It's an awesome way to add some active fun to your New Zealand road trip. 


10. Have a sweet time at Arataki Honey Visitor Centre

The Arataki Honey Centre is an un-BEE-lievable experience for families on a New Zealand road trip. Located in Havelock North, this visitor centre is all about discovering the fascinating world of honey and the precious bees that make it.

The kids will have fun dressing up as a beekeeper, snapping some cool 3D pics, and getting up close with buzzing bees in a safe and fun way. It's a great spot to learn about honeymaking, see the bees at work, and of course, taste their delicious honey.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Family friendly holiday parks in Hawke’s Bay

Now you’ve got some great ideas for family activities in Hawke’s Bay to add to your New Zealand itinerary, let’s take a look at where to stay in your campervan hire.


Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park

Nestled in the heart of Hastings, the Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park is a family-friendly paradise. This park is the perfect choice for families seeking a traditional campground experience with a twist of fun. The park includes a playground, BBQ area, free WiFi, a TV/Recreation room, laundry, and more. Recreational gear hire is also available, adding to the fun. 


Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park

Set on nine acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with direct beach access, the Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park is ideal for families. The park is equipped with upgraded facilities including new BBQ areas and a revamped communal kitchen. The adventure playground with trampolines and a new jumping pillow will be popular with the kids. With its beachfront location and close proximity to Napier’s attractions, this holiday park offers the best of both worlds – a superb park camp setting with outstanding coastal access.


Ready to explore Hawke’s Bay?

As you can see, Hawke’s Bay has something for every family. And the best way to experience it all? By exploring in the freedom and comfort of an Apollo campervan. Ready to plan your unforgettable Hawke’s Bay holiday? Book your campervan hire online today and get ready for the ultimate New Zealand road trip.

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