The main cities are Napier and Hastings. Smaller communities (from north to south) are Wairoa, Waipawa, Waipukurau, Dannevirke and Woodville. (Although Dannevirke and Woodville are often considered to have a community of interest closer to the Manawatu or northern Wairarapa regions.)
The climate is dry and temperate. Hawke's Bay is renowned for its horticulture with large orchards and vineyards on the plains. In the hilly parts of the region sheep and cattle farming predominates, with forestry blocks in the roughest areas.
Hawke's Bay also has a useful and innovative approach to community-wide care of diabetes mellitus featuring shared records held in a web-based computer system.
One trivial fact is that the region has a hill with the longest place name in New Zealand, and one of the longest in the world. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is an unremarkable hill in southern Hawkes Bay, not far from Waipukurau.