Cycling the Napier waterfront is great fun. © Jo Percival

Five great days out with kids in Hawke's Bay


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The sunny Hawke's Bay has lots of great options for keeping kids entertained. Check out some fun things to do...

1. Fish bike + Sea walls + Lick This

The best way to cover the expansive Napier waterfront is on two wheels. The long, mostly straight stretch of coastline runs from Bay View in the north, right down to Clive in the south. Start somewhere near the middle in Napier city and hire bikes from Fishbike and pick your direction. It’s easy riding on well-maintained footpaths, but you’ll need to be mindful of other cyclists, pedestrians or kids shooting out from the neighbouring playgrounds. 

If little legs are feeling up to it, head all the way down the cost to Waitangi Regional Park and wetlands on the banks of the Ngāruroro River. Or go north and check out the bustling activity at Napier Port – ships, trucks, trains and giant piles of logs. 

If you pick up a guide map before you set off, (or download one to your phone) continue around to Ahuriri and check out some of the Pangea Seed Foundation sea wall murals.

In 2016 and 2017, 50 internationally renowned artists came together to create large-scale artworks themed around conservation and the protection of our oceans. There are many more murals in Napier CBD, too, which you can explore with a well-deserved ice cream from local parlour Lick This on the waterfront. 

2. Mini golf + Ocean Spa

Right next to Napier’s stony beach on marine parade, you’ll find Par2 Mini Golf, a site that has been home to the game previously known as Garden Golf, Putt Putt or Rinkiedink Golf since the 1940s. Tackle 18 holes on the blue Pacific Pro-Am, or try not to get distracted by sea views on the curvaceous greens of Deco Drive. 

Once you’ve played the course, stroll down the road for a dip. Ocean Spa offers family-friendly and fastidiously clean outdoor pools for swimming at any time of year. Swim laps, splash in the toddler pool, or simply sit and soak.

3. Te Mata Peak + Birdwoods Gallery

Further south, just outside Havelock North, head to the hills. Or rather, The Hill – as you climb the iconic 399m Te Mata Peak. If you’re feeling keen or if the kids need to burn off some energy, leave your car near the bottom park entrance and wend your way up through magnificent redwood forest, before popping out onto grassy ridges and seriously spectacular views near the summit.

Winter walks in the Redwoods #getmetohawkesbay [📸 @muraleedharansajith ]

A post shared by Hawke's Bay (@hawkesbaynz) on Aug 6, 2017 at 10:32pm PDT

Te Mata Park park is also a dog-friendly, off-lead area so the whole family can enjoy an outing. For those less inclined to exertion, you can drive right to the top of the peak. From the summit, 360-degree views take in the Ruahine and Kaweka Ranges, the Heretaunga Plains, and on a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Ruapehu. Don’t forget to bring your camera. 

The sun finally breaks through at Te Mata Peak. This place is pretty incredible. A giant ridge of uplifted limestone dating back plenty of years. You can still find fossilised sea life , shells, creatures that once lived on the sea floor, now at the top of these peaks. Not only that, it’s such a great view from up there ! Massive thanks to for waiting around with me for the sun to make an appearance , and helping with this shot ⛰ ↠ Canon 5DMkiv ↠ Canon F2.8L16-35 Mkiii ↠ @nisifiltersaustralia IR GND Soft 0.9 ↠ @nisifiltersaustralia 10 stop - - #newzealandvacations #newzealandguide #ig_shotz_jun18 #splendid_earth #earthfocus #earthpix #eclectic_shotz #mountaingirls #awesomeglobe #nakedplanet #earthofficial #reflectiongram #exploretocreate #moodygrams #worldprime #nzmustdo #newzealand #destinationnz #igrefined #ig_color #amazing_longexpo #longexpoelite #longexponz #dscvr_earth #longexposure_shots #mthrworld #beautifuldestinations #wonderful_earth #tematapeak #hawkesbay

A post shared by Rach Stewart | New Zealand (@rachstewartnz) on Jun 6, 2018 at 12:49am PDT

Continue a little further out of Havelock North village (around 3km), and nestled in the countryside you’ll find Birdwoods, a gallery, cafe and sweetshop, guaranteed to make little eyes light up – and not just for the promise of confectionary. The cafe and eclectic homewares shop are housed together in a historic church hall, built in 1894 and relocated from Waipawa in Central Hawke’s Bay. The building has been given a facelift, with wide glass doors, opening on to an expansive lawn, swings and a large selection of garden sculptures. 

It’s an excessively pleasant spot to spend a sunny afternoon, sipping tea – or something stronger – and enjoying a homemade meal. 

The old-fashioned sweetshop is next door in a tiny cottage. Grab a bowl and a glove and help yourself to an array of lollies that will satisfy even the sweetest of tooth.  

4. MTG + Wardini Bookshop + Mister D’s

For a rainy day, stay dry with some art and culture. Napier city’s MTG (Museum Theatre Gallery) is a one-stop shop for cultural edification. Home to the simultaneously sobering and fascinating earthquake exhibition, as well as other regularly changing exhibits, the MTG will keep kids amused – particularly if you send them on a scavenger hunt. Pick up a clipboard from the front desk and race to find the hidden details of artworks and curios around the museum. There’s a prize for every completed sheet. 

While you’re in town, check out Wardini Books just around the corner on Hastings Street. With one of the best selections of children’s and young adult’s books in New Zealand, Wardini is a gem of a bookstore. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a magic show from owner, author and resident magician Gareth Ward.  

Finish your Napier city visit with a famous Mister D doughnut. Freshly cooked to order, a D doughnut is guaranteed to delight. The hardest part is choosing what to inject it with – chocolate, jam or custard, or maybe just go for one of each… 

5. Splash Planet

In the hot Hawke’s Bay summer there’s no better place to spend the day than Splash Planet. Open between November and April, Splash Planet in Hastings is Hawke’s Bay’s only theme park. But much more than just watery playgrounds and excellent hydro slides, the park is a mecca of fun.

Float on the Never Ending River, Ride Jungle Jeeps, race Formula Fun Karts, crash Bumper Boats, paddle Safari Kayaks and soar on the flying fox. Bring a picnic, or plan ahead and book a barbecue site for a full family day out.

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