Escaping to this corner of New Zealand in the school holidays guarantees the making of fun family memories. Hawkes bay offers a vast range of activities the whole family will enjoy as well as fantastic family-friendly accommodation. Take an educational tour to the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony, visit the National Aquarium or let off steam running around at a water park, the beach or one of the bays many wide-open spaces. A few fun-filled days with the family in Hawkes Bay will fly by too quickly.
Finding accommodation that is child-friendly and fun is very vital to the success of a family trip, thankfully accommodation like this is not hard to find in Hawkes Bay. The Hastings Top 10 Holiday Park has a range of accommodation options to cater for your family. The Hastings Top 10 facilities are fantastic for families and include a heated pool and spa, picnic spots, basketball and tennis courts, trampolines, the list goes on. It may be hard convincing the kids to leave your accommodation to explore the rest of the Bay.
We recommend kicking off your family time in the Bay with a day filled with educational fun. For your first activity visit the Arataki Honey Visitors Centre located in Havelock North only 10 minutes from the Hastings Top 10. The Arataki Honey Visitors Centre is a fun, interactive and informative way to learn all about the honey-making process and meet the bees that do the making. Entry into the Visitors centre is free.
After Arataki Honey, head out to the seaside town, Te Awanga, which is about 20 minutes from Havelock North. Here you could grab lunch at either Clearview Winery or Hygee Café, which are both super family-friendly – with great areas for children to run around. Hygee Café is located on the beachfront too – you could choose something from their cabinet and eat on the beach.
After lunch head to the Gannet Safaris Overland Base which is also in Te Awanga only a few minutes from Clear View and Hygee Cafe. Here your family can join in on the 1:30 PM afternoon tour which takes you to the world’s largest most accessible Gannett colony. This three-hour, 4X4 Safari experience will take you through the private Cape Kidnappers nature sanctuary to the Gannet Colony, where you are able to get up close with these winged wonders. On this tour, you will learn all about the history of the Cape, Hawkes Bay and are guaranteed to become very knowledgeable about these impressive Birds. Gannet Safaris Overland is family-friendly, and the tour guides can cater parts of the tour to a younger audience. This tour is an educational, fun and exciting activity for all ages to enjoy.
Hawkes Bay has many natural playgrounds for your family to explore, Te Mata peak is one of them. Located in Havelock North ( A 10-minute drive from the Hastings Top 10 ) Te Mata Peak is a fantastic place to explore with your family. Kick-off, your second day in the Bay with a trip to Te Mata peak to walk, play and explore. For families, we recommend one of Te Mata Peaks short walking Tracks to the Redwoods. This track is relatively flat and takes approximately 1 hour; however, allow extra time for exploring as it is likely your children will want to run around and explore the forest.
After your walk head to Birdwood’s Gallery and Summer Sweetshop (located five minutes from the centre of Havelock) for an early lunch – or post-walk treat. Birdwood’s is a gallery and café, fit with an old-fashioned sweet shop, Real Fruit Ice Cream stand, activities for kids and a beautiful big lawn to run around on.
After Birdwood’s, we recommend heading to Napier for the afternoon to check out the Marine Parade. The Marine Parade in Napier has a great walkway & cycle track – so if you have bikes or scooters in tow, we recommend bringing them along. There is also a great playground you can bike/scooter to.
The National Aquarium of New Zealand is also located on Napier’s Marine Parade, finish off the day here discovering an exciting world above and below the water. The Aquarium has a little penguin cove – where you can watch penguins play and feed as well as an oceanarium where sharks and Stingrays swim above you. The Aquarium is a great educational and fun place to visit with the family.
A trip to Hawkes Bay would not be complete without a day spent at Hasting’s iconic Splash Planet Water Theme Park. Splash Planet has been running for over 50 years and is renowned for the making of fun family memories. Spending a day at splash planet is a great way to finish off your trip to Hawkes Bay. Pack a picnic lunch with plenty of snacks and find a nice shady spot to set up camp. You can spectate your kids exploring, swimming and having a lot of fun – or join in as well. Splash Planet Spans over 6.5 Hectares and has attractions like kayaking, go-kart racing, waterslides a lazy river and more. Splash Planet is the perfect place to let of steam and top of your wonderful trip to Hawkes Bay.
For your last night in the bay – you could treat yourself and family to a meal out. There are hundreds of fabulous places to eat that in Hawkes Bay; however, you may want to select somewhere close to your accommodation that opens early – as your family might be in for an early night after a day in the sun at Splash Planet. Fun Buns, a bright and bustling Asian Street Food Restaurant in Hastings, or Pipi Café, an Iconic pink homely Pizza and Italian restaurant are both fantastic family-friendly options. They both open early and are located less than 10 minutes from The Hastings Top 10.
If you need some more travel inspiration, have a look at our other Hawkes Bay itineraries.