9 Reasons To Run The Hawke's Bay Marathon

A glass of wine as you cross the finish line? If you've never run the Hawke's Bay Marathon, you are missing out! Celebrate Food and Wine Country by running past (and on) its famous icons and landmarks, before devouring the best the region has to offer.

Hawke's Bay has an abundance of diverse and amazing landscapes from mountains and hill country to bridled rivers and coastal plains leading to a great many things to do, places to stay, amazing food and wine, architecture, beaches and wildlife to experience.

Here are 9 reasons to run the Hawke's Bay Marathon and knock those New Year resolutions out of the park!

1. The views

Full marathon runners start the race in Ahuriri overlooking the Marina before winding their way around the waterfront towards Napier. Marine Parade stretches along the waterfront for 3km as runners get a glimpse of Napier’s iconic Art Deco architecture. There are plenty of waterfront views for the halfers and the 10kmers too, with both races starting in two different beautiful locations. The region boasts thousands of acres of vineyards, orchards and farms, providing a picturesque backdrop when you head inland. No matter which path you choose, they all finish at Elephant Hill Winery in the beachside suburb of Te Awanga. Soak up the views and visualise that glass of wine at the finish line!

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2. See iconic landmarks

See stunning vistas encompassing Mahia Peninsula in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south as you cruise the coastline. The full marathon runners and the 10kmers get to experience a tour of Ātea a Rangi star compass on their paths. One of our favourite cultural landmarks (the star compass is a training tool used by celestial navigators who used the stars to sail throughout the Pacific. As you head inland, you'll see Te Mata Peak jutting out of the Hawke's Bay landscape, rising 399m above sea level.

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3. Experience scenic bridge crossings

Ngaruroro, Clive and Tukituki river. Everybody loves a good bridge, especially to go over on foot,and the Hawke's Bay full marathon has three spectacular bridge crossings. The picturesque crossing traverse the Ngaruroro River, the Clive River and the Tukituki River. The Ngaruroro River finds its source high in the central North Island’s Kaweka Ranges. Clive River is also a popular watersports venue, hosting kayaking, rafting and rowing. On a good day, you'll see locals with their jet skis and fishing rods along the rivers trying a nab dinner for the family.

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4. Enjoy the vibe

Finish the race at Elephant Hill Winery with a glass of wine as you cross the finish line. It's the details that make an experience exceptional, which is why people love Hawke's Bay. There is something about being handed a glass of wine after a 42km slog that is so so sweet. Elephant Hill is a stunning and innovative winery estate located at the finish line. This is a state-of-the-art estate, merging traditional values of winemaking with hand-picked grapes selecting only the very best possible fruit. You might be red and sweaty, but you will be finishing off in style!

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5. Soak your weary bones

A perfect way to rejuvenate your body and muscles after a marathon is by submerging yourself in the ocean or natural hot springs! For untouched sandy beaches, head south down the coastline to Ocean Beach or Waimarama Beach. Both beaches have heaps of room and are largely unpopulated. Make a short detour to Maraetotara Falls, approximately 2.5km from the start of Maraetotara Road (off Waimarama Road), for one of the best waterfall swimming holes in the Bay. And to the north, you will find Waipatiki beach, another spot loved by locals. For a special experience a little further afield, try Mōrere Hot Springs with hot and cold springs set amid 364 hectares of rainforest just north of Wairoa. Rare in the world of hot springs, the Mōrere Springs produce 250,000 litres a day of hot ancient seawater.

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6. Treat yourself

Finishing a marathon calls for a celebration. Why not try some of the best restaurants and wineries in New Zealand. From al fresco dining at many of the region's award-winning winery restaurants to modern bistro-style fare in the heart of Art Deco Napier, you'll find foodie delights of every kind in Hawke's Bay. As well as foodie restaurants there are plenty of markets packed full of local produce and genuine artisan products grown and produced in Hawke’s Bay. Every Sunday, Hastings' Waikoko Gardens come to life with the best seasonal produce on offer with the Hawke's Bay Farmers Markets. The kids are welcome and there is always a bit of music in the background to enjoy.

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7. Stay in boutique accommodation

After running around and exploring Food and Wine Country, find a soft bed in cozy quarters to rest your head. Hawke’s Bay has accommodation for every taste and budget, from luxury retreats, romantic cottages and elegant boutique hotels to B&B's, farm stays and homestays. Superior motels, urban apartments, self-contained cottages and holiday parks provide independence and plenty of space for families and groups. Some of beloved accommodation spots include Masonic Hotel, Black Barn Retreats, Millar Road, Porters Hotel and Clifton Glamping.

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8. Explore the history

Art Deco, Ongaonga Historic Village, Wairoa Museum. From the devastation of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 1931 rose the iconic Art Deco cityscapes we see today. Napier City is considered the Art Deco Capital, with the highest concentration of art deco buildings anywhere in the world, while Hastings is also home to an impressive collection of Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical buildings. Take a tour in a vintage car or join a guided walk to discover the best examples of Art Deco buildings you’ll see anywhere. Try stepping back in time at the Ongaonga Historic Village in Central Hawke's Bay. The small, rural village is awash with beautiful historic buildings and a museum filled with a wonderful collection of machinery, tools, history and photos from the early settlers and founding residents of Ongaonga. Or if you are heading toward M ōrere Hot Springs, stop by the Wairoa Museum showcasing historical displays and photographic collections of Māori and European history in the Wairoa.

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9. Get back on the horse (or bicycle)

Perhaps you feel energised after running for 4 hours straight? Why not try out the vast cycling trails across Hawke's Bay. The Hawke’s Bay Trails boast more than 200km of flat, easy-riding trails throughout the region, connecting award-winning wineries, unique cafés, quaint country pubs and artisan outlets. Some of our favourite trails include The Puketatpu Loop, the Tukituki Trails and the Hawke's Bay Wineries ride. There are plenty of bike rental companies and tours in locations throughout Hawke's Bay including Coastal Wine Cycles, Good Fun Bike Rides, Napier City Bike Hire & Tours, On Yer Bike Hawke's Bay and Takaro Trails.

*We recommend hiring a bike from Tākaro trails in Ahuriri and making your way north along Westshore toward Bayview. Try the famous Crab Farm spicy bubbles for a lunch stop before you head back!

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If you've been thinking about finally doing a marathon, it's time to tick it off the bucket list. Don't think about it, just do it!