Following dedicated cycle paths and the occasional country road, this delightful trail network traces the coast from Bay View in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south, and ventures inland through idyllic rural and riverside scenery.
With mostly flat terrain, fantastic attractions, great food and gorgeous weather, Hawke’s Bay is brilliant for biking at any time of year. These trails are the perfect way to explore the region and offer something for everyone – from world-class wineries and wildlife, to art deco architecture, art galleries and ice cream.
Well located bike tour and hire depots and an excellent map with themed rides – Water, Landscapes & Wineries – make it easy to plan the perfect sightseeing tour from an hour to several days, with nearly 200km of trails to choose from.
- beautiful coastal & country scenery
- art deco architecture
- winery tastings & dining at cellar-door restaurants
- Cape Kidnappers gannet colony
- Te Mata Peak lookout & walks
- Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market
- cafes, pubs, breweries, ice cream shops & more
- riverside picnics & swimming
- bird-filled wetlands
The 200km Hawke’s Bay Trails have been created with day rides in mind, all of which are easy to reach from destinations throughout the region. They’re also easy to adapt, link, or ride consecutively staying overnight in accommodation along the way. Here are the most popular rides.
36–47km, Grade 1/easiest, 3–5 hours
No visit to Hawke’s Bay is complete without knocking on at least a couple of cellar doors. This 36km loop around the Gimblett Gravels, Ngatarawa Triangle and Bridge Pā is a great way to get a taste of some of the Bay’s world-class Chardonnays, Bordeaux-style reds and Syrah.
Around a dozen wineries line the route, some of which have cellar door dining. The 11km there-and-back option to Sileni Estate is worth the extra effort. Refreshing craft beer is also available at Roosters Brewery on Omahu Road just off the trail.
Roys Hill Reserve or Hastings Golf Club are good places to start, or the ride can be accessed from Hastings via the iWay city cycling route, or Clive by riding along the Ngaruroro River trail. Bike hire is available at convenient locations.
18km, Grade 1–2/easiest to easy, 1.5–3 hours
The Puketapu pub is a major feature of this excellent short loop from Taradale on the outskirts of Napier.
The trail follows the banks of the pretty Tutaekuri River (with some short on-road sections), with attractions including a historic church, pā (Māori fortified village), gallery and chocolate factory, plus plenty of spots for picnics and swimming.
Around the halfway point, Puketapu village is a rewarding pit-stop with its popular country pub, and a store next door serving ice creams.
On the way back to Taradale the ride passes elegant Ormlie Lodge with a restaurant and accommodation.
Riders wanting a longer outing can start at Awatoto on the coast and cycle upstream for 10km beside the Tutaekuri River to Taradale. Bike hire is available in Taradale and nearby Greenmeadows.
The Water Ride
35km, Grade 1/easiest, 2–3 hours
The scenic ride starts on Napier’s shoreline at Ahuriri, close to several bike hire depots. It follows the coast on a concrete path towards Bay View, before heading inland and south into rural wetlands that used to form part of the inner harbour. The trail winds around historic Te Roro o Kuri Island, the site of a sacred pā site. Eagle-eyed riders may spot ancient shell middens and fossilised shells around here.
After passing the airport, the trail continues through wetlands where viewing hides encourage bird spotting – around 70 species live or visit here. The trail finishes back in Ahuriri, where seaside cafes, restaurants, bars and shops await.
The full 35km loop can easily be split into shorter sections, or extended to include the Taradale Loop that takes in the renowned Mission Estate and Church Road wineries.
15km, Grade 1–2/easiest–easy, 1–2 hours
Starting at the township of Clive, this short but intensely picturesque section of the Landscapes Ride hugs the Pacific Ocean, passing through quaint coastal communities along the way.
Highlights of the trail include picturesque wetlands, informative local heritage art installations, wineries offering meals and cellar-door tastings, burger bars, dairies, cafes, a museum, a popular surfing spot and even a farmyard zoo.
Arguably the ride’s best feature, however, is accessed from the seaside hamlet of Clifton – gateway to Cape Kidnappers. The gannet colony at the end of the Cape is an iconic Hawke’s Bay site, with the birds in residence from October to March and viewable on either on a 3–4 hour guided tour; a walking trail (5 hours return); or by hiring fat bikes from a depot at Clifton (the terrain being too rough for a normal mountain bike). By bike, it will take 3–4 hours.
The beauty of the Hawke’s Bay Trails is the ability to tailor a ride of almost any length; the trails’ website provides plenty of suggestions, including these.
Napier City Loop
up to 39km, easy–intermediate, 2–4 hours
Napier’s bike hire and tour operators can help launch you on your own tour around Napier taking in a range of different scenes – from the city streets and port to estuary, wetlands, river and ocean. Some excellent wineries can be found just off the trail, too.
Marine Parade Explorer
up to 30km return, easy, 2–4 hours
Napier’s popular waterfront pathway is suitable for bikes, trikes, wheelchairs and walkers; bike hire is readily available from the central city. It passes a raft of sights including the iconic ‘cloud’ viewing platform, mini-golf course, sunken garden, playgrounds, cafes and the National Aquarium. Towards the southern end, the path reaches Waitangi Regional Park where you can see the stunning Star Compass, Ātea A Rangi, which illuminates the art of early Māori navigation.
Havelock North—Clive (return)
37km, easy, 2–4 hours
Havelock North is a great place to stock up on delicious picnic supplies and hire a bike if required. From there, the ride to Clive begins by following cycle lanes then meets up with the river trail. Wine-lovers can sniff out a cellar door or two as the trail traces the foothills of magnificent Te Mata Peak and heads towards the beautiful Tukituki River and the Pacific Ocean Coast, passing olive groves, orchards and pretty farmland along the way. Slipping under Black Bridge, the trail heads through the Waitangi Regional Park wetland before arriving into the village of Clive.
TRAIL STATUS & ALERTS
For current trail status and any alerts – such as temporary track closures and detours – check the trail website.
FITNESS & SKILLS
Primarily graded 1–2, the Hawke’s Bay Trails are mostly easy, being wide and flat on a lime-sand surface. They’re great for families and novice riders but are also fun for experienced cyclists. The only serious hills are in the Tukituki River valley on the Landscapes Ride.
There are some short sections of road and a number of road crossings where road sense is essential. Note also that all trails are shared so keep left and slow down when approaching others and say a friendly ‘hi’ or ring a bell when passing.
Some rural sections of the trail pass through farm gates designed to keep stock in or motorbikes out. Please be sure to leave gates open or closed as you find them.
TYPE OF BIKE
The friendly terrain of these trails makes them suitable for everything from children’s bikes and uprights, to tourers, mountain bikes and e-bikes. Trikes, tandems and wheelchairs are also suitable for many sections, especially the 20km waterfront stretch from Bay View to Waitangi Regional Park.
E-bikes are permitted provided they are less than 300W power. The Hawke's Bay Trails' generally flat terrain means that riders can generally travel large distances on a single battery charge. However, riders should still ensure that they have sufficient capacity and charge to last the whole day. If overnighting in the Bay, e-bike riders should check with their accommodation provider that they cab recharge their batteries there.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
Although the trails are well signposted and never far from civilisation, carrying the official map will enhance the experience by pinpointing landmarks and assist with timings for shuttle pick-ups, etc. The map can be downloaded from the trail website.
You can also download the awesome Great Rides App to see where you are on the trail. It's free, works offline and has heaps of useful information, including trail descriptions and photos, trail services, food and accommodation.
The Hawke’s Bay region is blessed with balmy summers and bright, mild winters, making for great riding at any time of year. Riders should, however, always check the forecast and pack clothing appropriate for the conditions. A hat and sunscreen are essential in the summer months!
Note that seasonal or tidal flooding can be an issue in low areas or under bridges at Awatoto and the Ahuriri. Check the high tide times and the Hawke’s Bay Trails website for the latest track status and updates.
FOOD & DRINK
Cafes, restaurants, wineries and ice-cream shops are a major feature of the Hawke’s Bay – often referred to as the ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’ or a ‘mini Mediterranean’. With good planning, you can hit the best spots at the best time – from morning coffee and brunch to vineyard lunches and afternoon gelato. The official trails map will help you find them.
Some stretches of the trail have little to offer in the way of refreshments, so plan ahead and pack plenty of snacks and drinks. Water bottles can be filled at various settlements; be sure to carry plenty on hot summer days.
Cellphone coverage is good across the whole trail network.
There are dozens of public toilets along the trail, mostly in urban areas but also at other convenient points as marked on the official maps.
DOGS & HORSES
Dogs NOT allowed in some areas, e.g. DOC areas, with sensitive bird life or on farms with stock. Avoid the Water Ride section from Bayview, Onehunga Road, past the airport to Prebensen Drive.
Dogs are allowed on some of the trails but for safety reasons please make sure they are on a lead and under control at all times. Like children they can be unpredictable, so cyclists please slow down when approaching and expect the unexpected. There are dozens of public toilets along the trail, mostly in urban areas but also at other convenient points as marked on the official maps.
Horses are NOT permitted on the trails except where horse trails cross the trails in a few areas i.e. stopbank near Clive, Awatoto and where trail exits near Puketapu. There are separate horse trails, which can be found here.
A popular holiday destination for generations of New Zealanders, Hawke’s Bay is well set up for visitors. It will pay to book travel and accomodation well in advance for the busy summer season, December–March.
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Napier and Hastings are the Bay’s primary towns, but there are many other bases for a cycling holiday such as Havelock North, Clive, and Clifton. Napier airport connects the bay to regional New Zealand destinations.
Auckland and Wellington international airports are both within five hours’ drive; various scenic North Island highways connect the Bay with other popular destinations such as Taupō and Rotorua – both hotspots for recreational cycling.
Nationwide Intercity buses service Hawke’s Bay’s major destinations, while smaller shuttle operators provide local services.
BIKE HIRE, TRANSPORT & TOURS
Bike hire, shuttles and luggage transfers are available through several local companies, with Napier and Hastings the major hubs. Smaller bike hire depots are dotted around the trails. While casual bike hire is easy to arrange on the spot, it will pay to book any shuttles or tours in advance, particularly during peak season (December to March).
Several national bike tour companies also offer guided and other package trips on central North Island trails including Hawke’s Bay, with Rotorua and Taupō popular departure points.
Find bike hire, transport & tours
There are plenty of accommodation options in the visitor-friendly towns of Napier, Hastings, Havelock North, Bayview, Clifton and Clive, all of which lie on the trail. More accommodation is scattered on or near the trail in smaller settlements and pretty rural settings.
Be sure to book well in advance during peak season (December–March), and be aware that some providers close down in winter due to low demand.