Hawke's Bay Overview
- Forests, fertile plains and wild coasts
- Coast Life
- Golfers, gourmands and wine toasts
Does a cab sauv in hand, sea lapping at your toes sound a tempting scene? Then make tracks for the floodplains and foothills of one of NZ’s fêted grape-growing regions.
This east-coast swathe of the North Island has got it all: a head-turning ocean setting, nostalgic 1920s architecture and a Mediterranean-style microclimate. Add nation-high sunshine levels and you’re probably packing your bags. Once your palate is pickled from all that wine sampling, uplift your soul with swimming and sailing in these South Pacific waters, or treat your eyes to a gulp of art deco towns Napier and Hastings. Chuck in golf, gastronomy or plain R&R and you should be assured that Hawke’s Bay brags it all.
Highly Hawke's Bay
In 1931, an earthquake devastated the region’s two biggest cities, Napier and Hastings, pushing earth from below a lagoon to the surface, adding an extra 40 square kilometres to Napier’s dimensions. Optimistic rebuilding started straight away in the depths of the Depression, leaving behind a charming art deco legacy. Don a rakish trilby and enjoy a guided walking tour or drive yourself around the jauntily coloured architectural highlights (for details and maps see www.artdeconapier.com).
- You’ll want to book cabs in either of the two larger towns: try Napier Taxis (06 835 7777) and Hastings Taxis (06 878 5055). The Hawke’s Bay region is large, though, so this isn’t really an economical way of getting around, unless you’re simply travelling back to your hotel after dinner.
- Tipping culture
- Nowhere in New Zealand is it really expected, but adding up to 10 per cent on top of the bill if you’ve had great service is appreciated.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Shops, banks and post offices operate to regular business hours. Wineries in the area sometimes open all week, although check before visiting, as others only operate weekends. It’s not really the right part of the world for night owls. You wouldn’t want to be seated any later than 9pm at a restaurant; on Friday or Saturday night you might find a bar open past midnight, but don’t count on it.
- Packing tips
- Oversize sunnies, a Callaway golf outfit and a designated driver (of the human variety, as well as the golf club kind).
- Recommended reads
- Delve into the area’s strong Maori roots, with Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider, about a Maori girl’s struggle to assume leadership of her tribe (Niki Caro’s moving film of the book was shot here). Alternatively, try distinguished Maori poet Hone Tuwhare’s collection Deep River Talk or David Fingleton’s Kiri Te Kanawa: A Biography – the opera star was born in nearby Gisborne, with Maori and European ancestry.
- If the buzz words in the food world right now are local and seasonal, Hawkes Bay is well ahead of the times. With fertile land and the perfect climate, just about everything is grown or gathered here: meat, seafood, cheese, honey, olive oil, a whole array of fruit and vegetables and even coffee. All of that is then utilised by top-class chefs to create menus that can blend Asian tastes with European traditions, or at local cafes for something a little more low-key. Guaranteed: whatever you eat will be the freshest it can be.
- Regional specialities
- Order a local glass of wine to match: names to watch out for near Havelock North and Cape Kidnappers include Craggy Range Winery (www.craggyrange.com) and Te Mata Estate Winery (www.temata.co.nz).
- New Zealand dollar (NZ$).
- Time zone
- GMT +12 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for New Zealand: 64. Hawkes Bay: 06 (drop the zero if calling from an international number).
- Do go/don't go
- Summers (November to February) are bright, warm and mellow, ideal for Hawke’s Bay’s outdoorsy way of life, and winters are temperate here too. Besides, even if it does rain, you can still go wine tasting.
Don't go home without...
snapping a photograph of yourself in front of the hill known as one of the longest named in the world: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapiki- maungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. As attested by the Guinness Book of Records. It’s a Maori moniker that translates roughly as ‘The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose ﬂute to his loved one’. Your next challenge? Pronouncing it.