Central Hawke's Bay is a relaxed coastal district popular with watersports enthusiasts for its diving, snorkelling, surfing, fishing and waterskiing. The main service centre of the district is Waipukurau, which has all the modern conveniences, including a golf course, art gallery and restauarants. Waipawa, just 8km north at the junction of the Waipawa and Tukitui rivers is a trout fishing haven.

There are many delightful towns and historic homesteads with stately gardens in the area and artists' enclaves abound. Some of larger houses have been turned into magnificent guesthouses.

The region also boasts an unbeatable tongue twister, the town with the longest place name in the world, Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu. Try and say it, if you dare!