Hastings: A Perfect Holiday Destination and the Best Time to Visit
Surrounded by orchards and vineyards, Hastings is a lively city in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand. It has long been a major centre for the cultivation of stone fruits, apples and kiwis, as well as being renowned for its red wines, such as Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. With its magnificent setting and vibrant farmer’s market, Hastings is an ideal base for discovering the natural wonders along the North Island’s east coast.
In this guide, we’ll explain why Hastings is the perfect holiday destination and how to make the most of your trip here. Your accommodation needs are easily met at Rentola New Zealand where you’ll find a diverse range of listings in the Hawke’s Bay region. Whether you want to be in the heart of all the urban action or amidst the serenity of a rural abode, there are choices out there.
How to get to Hastings
Hastings is located near the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, around 20 minutes’ drive from Napier. Hawke's Bay Airport is around 30 minutes away and has flights to destinations across New Zealand. Regular buses connect to Hastings and hire cars are available at Hawke’s Bay Airport for getting around.
Best time to visit Hastings
The Hawke’s Bay region is one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand and can be visited as a year-round destination, with distinct seasons to enjoy. Summer is usually the warmest and driest season, although it’s also the busiest, particularly during the annual school holidays from late December until early February. Both spring and autumn bring milder temperatures while winter offers crisp mornings followed by mostly sunny days.
8 Things to see and do in Hastings
1. Pick up fresh produce at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
Every Sunday morning, the Waikoko Gardens in Hastings host a lively market that showcases the best produce the region has to offer. As you wander between the stalls, you can chat with local growers and makers while picking up fresh fruit and vegetables, ready-to-eat treats and artisan crafts. In addition to free tastings, you can expect live music performances by local buskers.
2. Climb to the top of Te Mata Peak
Rising to the southeast of Hastings is this 399-metre-high summit, which offers magnificent views across the Hawke’s Bay region. Its surrounding park is traversed by both hiking and mountain biking trails that take in native eucalypt forest and a grove of California redwoods. From the lookout, you can see all the way to Mount Ruapehu and Napier on a clear day.
3. Visit the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony
Hawke’s Bay is home to one of New Zealand’s best birdwatching destinations at Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui. Encompassing 13 hectares, this private reserve is home to up to 25,000 gannets, which can be observed performing courtship rituals and diving for fish. Located nearby is the spectacular Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, which was designed by the American architect, Tom Doak.
4. Check out the changing exhibitions in the Hastings City Art Gallery
Overlooking Civic Square, this free gallery hosts changing exhibitions by local and international artists. In addition to its four gallery spaces, it boasts a workshop where artists' residencies and community outreach programs are held. Adjacent to the gallery is the Hastings War Memorial Library.
5. Ride the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trails
Connecting Hastings and Napier, the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trails comprise 200+ kilometres of trails that take in the picturesque landscapes of the Heretaunga Plains. Most of the trails are relatively flat, making it ideal for cyclists of all abilities. The Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trails access many of the region’s vineyards and cellar doors, giving you the opportunity to taste some of New Zealand’s best wines along the way.
6. Meet the animals at the Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo
Young and old alike will love spending an afternoon at this popular petting zoo, which is home to alpacas, ostriches and highland cows. You can purchase treats to feed the animals and let the kids run loose in the children’s playground. After your visit to the Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo, be sure to stop by Haumoana Beach for a stroll.
7. Hike to Maraetotara Falls
One of the area’s most beautiful cascades is around 20 kilometres from Hastings along the Maraetotara River. From the carpark, you can climb down the wooden stairs that lead to the base of the falls and refresh with a swim in the pool below. If time allows, you can visit the old Havelock North Power Station along the Maraetotara Historic Walk.
8. Explore the Pekapeka Wetlands
This 90-hectare reserve is all that remains of a much more extensive wetland and plays an important role in regulating flood waters and enhancing natural biodiversity. A network of leisurely walking trails winds its way through the reserve, with interpretative panels detailing the area’s ecological value and some of the native birdlife you can expect to see along the way.