The region is situated on the east coast of the North Island. It bears the former name of what is now Hawke Bay, a large semi-circular bay that extends for 100 kilometres from northeast to southwest from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.
The Hawke’s Bay region includes the hilly coastal land around the northern and central bay, the floodplains of the Wairoa River in the north, the wide fertile Heretaunga Plains around Hastings in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges.
Five major rivers flow down into the coast of Hawke’s Bay. From north to south, they are the Wairoa River, Mohaka River, Tutaekuri River, Ngaruroro River and Tukituki River respectively. Lake Waikaremoana is situated in northern Hawke’s Bay roughly 35 km from the coast. It is the largest lake in Hawke’s Bay, 4th largest in the North Island and 16th largest in New Zealand.
The region consists of Wairoa District, Hastings District, Napier City, and its southernmost district, Central Hawke’s Bay District, as well as the town of Taharua in Taupo District and the town of Ngamatea in Rangitikei District. It does not include Southern Hawke’s Bay, whose constituent districts, the Dannevirke and Woodville counties, came under the Tararua District Council and the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (also known as Horizons Regional Council) in the 1989 local government reforms.
In June 2015, the Local Government Commission proposed the amalgamation of the four local councils with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. This proposal was rejected by the affected communities.
The region has a hill with the longest place name in New Zealand, and the longest in the world according to the 2009 Guinness Book of Records. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is an otherwise unremarkable hill in southern Hawke’s Bay, not far from Waipukurau.
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