There are four Hawke Cup regional zones:
- Zone One Hamilton, Northland, Counties-Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Poverty Bay, Waikato Valley
- Zone Two Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Wanganui, Horowhenua-Kapiti, Manawatu, Taranaki
- Zone Three Canterbury Country, Marlborough, Nelson, Buller
- Zone Four Otago Country, North Otago, Southland, South Canterbury, Mid-Canterbury
Each zone's regional winner gets a three-day Hawke Cup Challenge as part of the annual challenge series against the current holders, on a rotational basis. If the current Hawke Cup holders finish top of their zone, then the team finishing in second place qualifies for the challenge series.
The team with the Hawke Cup at the end of the challenge series holds it for the winter. To win the Hawke Cup, a challenger must beat the holder outright OR win on the first innings (a first innings advantage in a drawn match) on the holder's home ground.