6 family-friendly nature adventures

Explore the Bay with your family like true adventurers! Traverse new terrain, discover an underwater world, document your journeys, and learn more about the unique geography of Hawke's Bay.

These family-friendly nature experiences are a great way to experience the spectacles of our beautiful region; an adventure for everyone!

1. Pekapeka Wetlands

Explore this incredible wildlife sanctuary on easy tracks and boardwalks, just south of Hastings on the road to Central Hawke's Bay. Informative billboards share fascinating insights about this valuable ecosystem, which is home to more than 82 plant species and more than 20 protected bird species. Walk up the lookout for a panoramic view of the valley. It's an ideal park to explore with the family!

Pekapeka Wetlands, photograph by Kirsten Simcox

2. Gannets at Cape Kidnappers

Visit the world's largest mainland gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, which is home to 20,000+ birds at over the summer. See the baby gannet chicks during December and January, before watching them fly off in March/April as they migrate to warmer climates. Gannet Safaris provide a unique experience with stunning scenery the whole family will enjoy!

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Gannet Safaris Overland at Cape Kidnappers colony

3. Lake Tutira and Guthrie-Smith Arboretum

Lake Tutira and the Tutira Recreation Reserve is located approximately 50km north of Napier and covers 174ha. Lake Tutira is home to an abundance of wildlife and is a popular fishing and kayaking spot (swimming is not recommended due to the periodic algae blooms). Located right next door is the Guthrie-Smith Arboretum, a significant repository for many plant species including, plants from New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Himalayas, Europe, Mexico, North America, Mediterranean and others. The Arboretum is open to the public every Sunday from October through to the end of May.

Lake Tutira, photograph by Michael Farr

4. Te Angiangi Marine Reserve

Te Angiangi Marine Reserve spans between Blackhead and Aramoana beaches. The rock shelves of Te Angiangi Marine Reserve are great for exploration at low tide at any time of the year, but for the best experience be sure to pack the snorkels and goggles. At low tide, look out for the different types of birds feeding on the intertidal platforms. Kingfishers, gulls, herons, variable oystercatchers, pied stilts and flocks of eastern bar-tailed godwits are common. 

Blackhead Beach Te Angiangi Marine Reserve

5. Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo

A perfect day for little ones, you can get up and close to a range of seriously cute farm animals at the Farmyard Zoo in Haumoana. From pigs, sheep and calves to lambs and more, there are so many animals waiting to be petted! Go for pony rides and hand-feed the animals - it’s a unique experience for the whole family. As well as offering a wide range of animals and a great family outing, Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo also run Horse Trekking and 4x wheel Surrey Bike Hire to local beach-side wineries.

Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo, photograph supplied

6. National Aquarium of New Zealand

The National Aquarium of New Zealand stretches along Napier’s Marine Parade and is home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater and land animal exhibits. The 1.5 million litre Oceanarium showcases the varied aquatic species that exist in the adjacent Hawke Bay, including sharks, stingrays, and other reef fish. View the Oceanarium inside a glass viewing tunnel as fish swim and feed around you!

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National Aquarium, photograph supplied