If you’re visiting the Hawke’s Bay, you can explore the twin cities of Hastings and Napier, cycle past rivers and vineyards, and marvel at views of the Pacific, from the beach or the golf course.
Hawke’s Bay is blessed with lots of sunshine, making it a bountiful place to grow all manner of crops. It is NZ’s oldest wine growing region; with wine produced here since Mission Estate was established in 1851. The maritime climate is reputedly similar to Bordeaux, and areas such as Gimblett Gravels are renowned for producing full bodied red wines. Hawke’s Bay vineyards are also well regarded for rich Chardonnays. Famous wineries include Esk Valley, Crab Farm, Church Road, Craggy Range, Black Barn and many others.
The Hawke’s Bay region derives its name from Hawke Bay, named by Captain James Cook, after Admiral Edward Hawke, but its original name is Heretaunga.The first people to live in this area were Ngāti Kahungunu, whose ancestors arrived on the Tākitimu waka, captained by Tamatea Arikinui. Kahungunu was descended from Tamatea, and travelled widely around the North Island, making several strategic marriages. Eventually he arrived around Māhia Peninsula, and after proving his worth, married the highborn and beautiful Rongomaiwahine. The people of Ngāti Kahungunu descend from this marriage, and are the third largest iwi in NZ, with tribal lands including Wairoa, Te Whanganui-ā-Orotū, Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay), Tamatea, Tāmaki-nui-a Rua and Wairarapa.
At the northern end of the sweep of Hawke Bay lies Wairoa District. From here holiday makers can explore the beautiful beaches of the Mahia Peninsula or head inland to Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana. Mahia Beach is a long, sandy beach with good fishing, safe swimming, surf and diving. There’s fish and chips at the Mahia Pub, should the need arise. Mahanga Beach lies on the Gisborne side of the peninsula. It’s worth taking the drive to the thermal hot pools at Morere Springs for a walk though nikau trees and a soak amongst native bush.
Napier - Art Deco Capital
Art Deco Weekend, photo: Hawke’s Bay Tourism
On the 3rd February 1931 Hawke’s Bay was hit by a devastating earthquake, which destroyed the city of Napier. The four architectural firms in Napier worked around the clock on designs for new buildings, in the Art Deco and Spanish Mission style of the day. Now Napier is famous for its Art Deco architecture, with guided tours around landmark buildings available from the Art Deco Trust. Every February Napier celebrates this heritage over the Art Deco Weekend, with a multitude of events, vintage cars, costumed dances and dinners. Another iconic feature of Napier is its Marine Parade, stretching along the seafront with views of the shingly beach; stroll along the front and take in the famous Sound Shell, and statue of Pania of the Reef, along with the hot water pools of the Ocean Spa Complex and the attractions of the National Aquarium.
Hastings District includes the City of Hastings with its Spanish Mission style buildings, and Havelock North, which locals call “The Village”. Havelock North was founded in 1860 and prides itself on its colonial charm, boutique shops and cafes. Black Barn Vineyard, on Black Barn Rd, is very popular for its wines, bistro, and over summer, the concerts and events held in the outdoor amphitheatre. The Hastings District is known for its fruit and produce, which visitors can sample at the Farmers’ Market 8.30 a.m. -12.30 p.m. every Sunday at the A&P Grounds, Hastings. There are a great number of wineries locally, with scenic cycle trails wending conveniently between several lovely vineyards. Other scenic highlights are Te Mata Peak, and the beautiful beaches such as Waimarama and Waipatiki Beach.
Central Hawke’s Bay - from the Ruahine Ranges to the coast
Central Hawke’s Bay stretches from the Ruahine Ranges in the west down to the coast. The Eastern Ruahine Forest Park protects large areas of the Central North Island Ranges: head into the back country for hunting, mountain biking, tramping or four wheel driving. Coming down from the ranges, there are great stretches of farmland, with the town of Waipukurau as the hub. Towards the coast, there are wide views of the Pacific as it rolls in. Mangakuri Beach is an unspoilt spot far from the madding crowd. Explore the rockpools, try fishing for gurnard and kahawai or setting pots for crays. Further south, the long sandy beach of Porangahau is great for fishing, diving, surfing and swimming. Waterskiers and wakeboarders can skim along the Porangahau River. Porangahau also has a golf course, tennis courts, a popular pub and restaurant, and at the end of December there’s beach polo on the sands.
Where to stay
What to do
• Go fishing or diving along the Pacific coast.
• Cycle the flat and scenic Hawke’s Bay Trails, round vineyards, coast or scenic countryside.
• Visit Napier for its unique Art Deco architecture.
• Take a tour of the region’s famous wineries.
• Visit gannets, or play golf on the world-class course at at Cape Kidnappers.
• Hike in the Kaweka Forest Park, find hot springs, views and native birds..
Our guides for the Hawke’s Bay region:
www.doc.govt.nz - Department of Conservation, Places to visit in Hawke’s Bay
www.nzcycletrail.com - NZ Cycle Trail, Hawke’s Bay Trails
www.hawkesbaymtb.co.nz - Hawke’s Bay Mountain Bike Club
www.hawkesbayfarmersmarket.co.nz - Hawke’s Bay Framers’ Market
www.hawkesbaynz.com - Official Hawke’s Bay Tourism website