Only have 12 Hours in Hastings? Here are the Best Things to do

A hand grabbing a chip from a bowl at Brave Hastings.

If you have an appetite for rich culture and relish sampling local food and wine, Hastings is bursting with flavour in all aspects.

When your time in a city is limited, you need fail-safe tips to point you in the right direction on how best to spend your day. Here’s our guide on how to get the very best out of the rich and vibrant scene in Hastings.

There are plenty of things to do in Hastings, so it can be hard to narrow it down to just 12 hours’ worth. For this one-day itinerary, we start at Te Mata Park and then stick to the town centre, sharing the very best arts and culture, shopping, food and beverage options on offer.

From local institutions that have stood the test of time to up-and-coming artisans and business owners, this is a celebration of what makes Hastings a great place to visit and to live. If you are lucky enough to have more time up your sleeves (or already are planning another visit), then make sure to venture out into the surrounding district. Enjoy the great outdoors and the more than 40 wineries and cellar doors that are right on the doorstep.


Clouds at the foot of Te Mata Peak in Hastings.

7.30am: Start the day with an early morning walk at Te Mata Park

Warm into the day by getting the legs going with a loop of the Pīwakawaka Trail in Te Mata Park. It'll take you about 40 minutes, passing through native bush, tall gum trees and fragrant eucalypts, and, of course, plenty of cheeky, chirping fantails.

Photo: Hawkes Bay Tourism

8.30am: Fuel the body with breakfast from Pixie Bowls

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Shop 2/10 Napier Road, Havelock North

With a packed day ahead of you, to get the most out of your time in Hastings it’s important to begin with a breakfast that will satiate you, and one that's also just darn delicious.

Head to Pixie Bowls (a quick ten minutes down the road from Te Mata Park), the perfect place to sit down for a nutritious, fresh and fruity meal. Once a takeaway shack on the edge of town, Pixie Bowls' brick-and-mortar is a bustling destination for nourishing smoothies, bowls, toast and epic coffee.

Take your pick from their menu, or, if you're craving something in particular, you can build your own toast with toppings or add a superfood booster to your fruit-based goodness. Once you have made your selection, sit back and enjoy your surroundings. The white and exposed concrete interior accented with teal tiles and furnishings creates a beachside feel; a tranquil space to start your busy day.

10am: Get a mid-morning arts fix at Hastings City Art Gallery and Ngā Pou o Heretaunga

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201 Eastbourne Street East, Hastings

The arts and culture scene of any city speaks of its vibrancy and spirit, and Hastings does not disappoint in this regard. After finishing your breakfast, take an easy five-minute stroll down the road, and you will come to Civic Square.

It’s here that you will want to spend some time looking at and reflecting on the Ngā Pou O Heretaunga installation. Made up of 18 pou that each represent a marae in the area, it is an important recognition of the city’s past and also of its future. The craftsmanship that has gone into creating these pou is truly inspiring, and it is appropriate that they are located just in front of the Hastings City Art Gallery.

Wander on into the gallery and enjoy the latest exhibitions that are on display. The curation programme is committed to showcasing a range of artists and mediums, so there is always something interesting and thought-provoking to see.

11.30am: Get your caffeine fix at Cupple

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216 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

After finishing your tour of the art gallery, treat yourself to a mid-morning coffee at one of the best spots in town, Cupple.

Operated by local coffee roasters, Firsthand Coffee, this is a popular local hangout, and it’s easy to see why. The service is prompt and friendly, the minimalist decor is effortlessly cool, the coffee is on point every time, and the food cabinet will tempt you no matter how full you might be feeling.

Cupple also happens to share a space with legendary Hawke’s Bay French bakers Ya Bon, so while you enjoy your cup of coffee, grab a seat by the large window and watch the baking magic at work. The smell of the pastries might be so intoxicating that you have to get one to take away to enjoy later.


12pm: Shop the Heretaunga Precinct

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206 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

Make some time in your day to indulge in some retail therapy, as the shopping in Hastings’ Heretaunga East precinct does not disappoint.

For any vintage furniture lovers out there, a must-visit for you is So Vintage, run by husband and wife team Korreen and Mehdi this shop is a treasure trove of unique pieces sourced from France.

Only steps away is Blackbird Goods, another shopping gem that you may, in fact, recognise from your Instagram feed. Owners Gemma and Nathan are passionate about sourcing and curating items in-store that better your everyday life and are made to last. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift or treat yourself to something special that you know is a quality piece. 

Also focused on showcasing craftsmanship is Coco & Co. a non for profit independent shop that is staffed by artists and volunteers and which gives the talented makers in the area an opportunity to display their works.

And for any avid readers among you, a stop at The Little Red Bookshop is highly recommended. This second-hand bookstore is brimming with stacks of books and wraps you in a warm hug when you walk through the front door, as only the cosiness and joy of reading can. Keep an eye on the time, though, as it is very easy to spend hours getting lost in different literary worlds here.

1.30pm: Lunch at Brave Brewing

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205 Queen Street East, Hastings

It’s been a busy day so far, so it’s very likely at this point, you will have worked up a serious appetite, and there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like Brave Brewing.

Situated in the Tribune Precinct, this taproom and brewery serve up tasty food and brilliant brews. On a sunny day (of which there are plenty in Hastings), take a seat in the courtyard and get in some people-watching time as you dine.

Their food menu is full of epic picks, but it’s hard to go past their hot dogs, and locals will tell you that these are a must-try at Brave. When it comes to selecting your drink of choice, chat with the team behind the bar, they’re knowledgeable about what’s on tap and happy to provide recommendations.

3pm: Explore The Tribune precinct

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201 Queen Street East, Hastings

With a satisfied tummy and a new burst of energy, it’s time to explore one of the most exciting developments in Hastings, The Tribune precinct - and you’re already right there!

What was once the former Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune buildings have been transformed into retail, hospitality and office mecca. The old brick buildings that housed activities, such as the paper’s archives and the printing press have had extensive earthquake-strengthening work and renovations carried out. Laneways have been created between the buildings, and a brand-new atrium space that can be used for events and functions is the icing on the cake. 

Shopping hotspots to check out include premier fashion destination BAZAAR, where many exclusive brands are stocked and where it might be hard to walk out the door without making a purchase. For interiors and homewares lovers, Kindred Road is full of pieces you’ll be adding to your mental wishlist, and even if you just window shop, it’s such a beautifully curated and merchandised space. 

On the outer perimeter of the precinct is the Real World headquarters and retail store, and shopping here is a sensory delight. This New Zealand-made range is committed to elevating the essential rituals in our homes, and their products extend from hand creams to dishwashing liquid, to candles, to pet wash.

Last but not least, pop into Oh My Goodness Speciality Breads, a café, bakery and milling site that specialise in gluten-free products. Now you are probably still full from lunch, but they have a selection of their pre-mixes available to buy or even a sneaky sweet treat for later.    

4pm: Visit the Municipal Building & Laneways

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319 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

The redevelopment of the Toitoi: Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre, has been a huge undertaking by the Hastings City Council. With the restoration of historic buildings such as the Opera House and the Municipal Building, the centre was revamped to include new laneways and spaces for retail and hospitality businesses.

Just taking time to admire the outside of these buildings is well worth it to see the care and detail that has gone into preserving these important sites. Down the way is Cellar 495, a wine bar and tasting room that you should make time for. Helmed by the 495th Master of Wine, Michael Henley, this is the place to come and try wines you may never have heard of before, and you might just discover a new favourite.


5pm: Enjoy an aperitif at Hastings Distillers

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231 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

As the day is beginning to wind down, it’s time to move on to the first of our evening destinations, Hastings Distillers, where they embrace and encourage the European concept of the ‘aperitif’ - to have a casual drink and snack with friends before dinner. We are all about this, and what a location for it.

Hastings Distillers is New Zealand’s first producer of certified organic artisan spirits and liqueurs, producing six varieties of gin and liqueurs. They are passionate about working with nature to create the best spirits possible, and their approach has yielded phenomenal results. The tasting room is elegant and sophisticated, an interior decor dream and one that is very ‘grammable - especially with a gin or cocktail in hand. 

6.30pm: Dinner at Sazio

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215 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

Feeling all the good feels after a memorable experience at the Distillers, it’s dinner time and, more importantly, pasta time at Sazio.

This neighbourhood pasta bar is incredibly inviting, with a warm atmosphere as soon as you arrive. The buzz and activity from the open plan kitchen are great to watch, so, if you can, why not get a seat up at the bar where you will be able to look on as the chefs work hard to deliver on flavour - a show and dinner!  It’s highly recommended to order their sourdough focaccia to start and then for your main. You cannot go wrong with a classic beef ragu with pappardelle or gnocchi that melts in your mouth. Just thinking about the dining experience at Sazio has us salivating.

8.30pm: Nightcap at Common Room

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227 Heretaunga Street East, Hastings

End the day at local favourite Common Room, known as the best little bar in the bay, a place where you feel instantly at home and welcome. With plenty of different hangout spaces in the bar, you can cosy up on a leather couch or, on a balmy evening, head outside to the courtyard and enjoy your drinks al fresco.

On different nights of the week, there is often live music playing or open mic comedy and poetry slam nights to enjoy. A pretty great end to a jam-packed day exploring and enjoying the best of Hastings city centre.

About Hastings, Hawke's Bay

Population: 85,000

Average temperature: Summer 25°C / Winter 15°C

A little bit of history: Hastings was founded later than other Hawke's Bay towns. Runholder and entrepreneur Thomas Tanner and partners illegally leased land on the Heretaunga plain from Māori in 1864, and were granted an official lease in 1867. From then on, the foundations were laid for its future as a service town to a growing agricultural economy.

These days, within the central city, there’s a growing team of locals working to inject new vitality and economic diversity into the Hastings CBD. Evidence of their work can be found in an evolving reef of restaurants, cafes and bars, boutique shops and a lush green space

Also worth a visit (if you have more than 12 hours): 

If you have a little extra time to spare, visit the region’s most famous ice cream parlour just outside the city centre: ice cream has been produced at Rush Monro’s Icecream Gardens for generations. With 90-year-old recipes of farm-fresh cream, whole milk, and pure cane sugar, you know you are in good hands!

Hawke's Bay Farmers’ Market, among New Zealand's oldest and largest weekly farmer’s markets, is a must-see for a good old mooch and meander. There is nothing fresher or finer than a barrel load of food from these community markets.