Hawke's Bay covers approximately 1.4 million hectares or 1,400 km2 and the main cities of Hastings and Napier are located on the Heretaunga Plains.. The main economic activity of Hawke's Bay is agriculture. This is mostly intensive sheep and beef farming along with viticulture, market gardens, orchards, and horticultural cash crops, plus the service industries that support these, including food processing.
The eight river catchments in Hawke’s Bay (from the north) are – Wairoa, Mohaka, Esk, Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro, Tukituki, Maraetotara/Waimarama and Porangahau. These are a wide variety of river types, from lowland coastal rivers and spring-fed lowland and upland streams to sub-alpine-fed rivers.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council continues to investigate the linkages between river and groundwater resources. The two known major groundwater systems in Hawke’s Bay are under the Heretaunga Plain and Ruataniwha Plain. The Heretaunga aquifer has been identified by the Ministry for the Environment as a national water body of the highest economic value for existing and potential domestic and industrial use.
Hawke's Bay lakes include Waikaremoana and Wakareiti in Te Urewera National Park, the Kaweka Lakes in the Kaweka Forest Park, Lake Tūtira and Lake Whakaki in Tutira plus many smaller lakes, often on private farm land.