Police are appealing for sightings of the man assaulted and found unconscious at Haumoana this morning.
The unidentified man was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital at about 7am where he remains in intensive care.
He was described as being in his mid-40s, with long scraggly brown hair.
He was wearing a long sleeved red top and dark blue shorts.
Police are carrying out a scene examination in the vicinity of Domain Road and the section of cycleway just after Blackbridge to Haumoana Beach is closed off.
One nearby resident was enjoying her morning coffee on the deck at about 6:30am when she heard chatter and a radio from the fire engine.
"I looked outside and there was an ambulance, a fire truck and a police car. I had no idea what was going on and thought I had missed something."
A group of fruit pickers had gone down to the beach last night and the resident said her heart dropped as she thought they could have had an accident.
But moments later a swarm of police arrived outside her home and a middle aged man was carried on a stretcher and put into the back of the ambulance.
"He didn't look to good and he wasn't moving."
The van the fruit pickers were in was still there this morning and police spoke to the group but the resident didn't think they were being suspected of anything.
The group had been down on the beach with music and some neighbours reported waking up to their loud tunes.
She said this was the first serious assault that had happened in the area and didn't expect events like this to happen.
"We have had a few cars go in to the drain and a bit of drama but nothing like this. It is pretty sad really. I just hope the man is alright."
Police are asking if anyone saw the man assaulted in the Domain Rd and Grange Rd North area of Haumoana to contact Hastings Police Station immediately on 06 873 0500.
Alternatively, details can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.