Hawkes Bay Four Ways

22 July 2016

Hawkes Bay is so much more than the sum of its award-winning wineries. This stunning temperate region on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island is bursting with culture and local history, unique wildlife, gourmet produce and some of the best white water rafting and hiking around.

 An old 1920s/30s era automobile in front of a Napier building. An old car parked outside a cinema that was built in Art Deco style following a major earthquake in 1931. Napier, New Zealand. Picture: Getty Images.

Travel Back In Time

Recapture the glamour and style of the 1930s in Napier. Flattened by an earthquake in 1931, the city was completely rebuilt and is one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world. A guided walking tour with the Art Deco Trust is a great way to gain an understanding and appreciation of its history and glamour or splurge on the Vintage Car Tour, a stylish 75-minute ride in a luxury Packard taking in the Art Deco Quarter, historic Port Ahuriri and other landmarks. For the best retro feels, the annual Tremains Art Deco Festival is a must-visit. Thousands flock to the city for this 4-day event which recaptures the spirit of the 1920s and 30s with a prohibition party, soap box derby, Gatsby picnic and depression dinner.

Cool, Bro

Head to Porangahau and Central Hawkes Bay to goggle at the Guinness Book of Records longest place name, and learn about local Maori culture on a Waimarama Maori of the historic fortress site of Kakikino and present day Marae. For a truly immersive cultural experience, set sail from Aruhiri Harbour aboard a traditional Maori Waka sailing vessel with Waka Experience; hear Maori stories and learn how to navigate by the stars.

 A Waka Māori watercraft moored on a beach. The Māori watercraft known as a 'Waka' - used for fishing and river travel. Picture: Getty Images.

Eat Your Fill

Artisan producers, fresh regional produce, fab dining and farm gates; Hawkes Bay is a veritable feast. Weekends, head to Hastings Farmers Market for the plumpest seasonal fruit and veggies, delectable meats, baked treats, pickle and preserves. For edgy dining, Napier’s Bistronomy, a forage restaurant with a share plate philosophy, shines in a landscape of cool bars and award winning restaurants and cafes, while local institution Mister D is a must-stop for its famous injectable donuts. The curated food trails are a great way to meet the growers and try their produce. For the ultimate in foodie heaven, don’t miss the bi-annual Food and Wine Classic, a 10-day gourmet festival held in summer and winter, with workshops, dinners and events hosted by leading food and wine producers.

 Gannet bird colony for as far as they eye can see. Gannet colony at cape kidnappers New Zealand. Picture: Getty Images.

The Birds

Bird enthusiasts, rejoice! Hawkes Bay, and the magnificent craggy peninsula of Cape Kidnappers, is home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world. In summer, when the chicks have hatched and the colony swells to 15,000, jump aboard a vintage tractor-trailer for a tour of the main nesting sites and journey along the windswept, knotted coastline from Black Reef to Cape Kidnappers. If you’re lucky, you may spot the chicks on their precarious first flight across the Tasman Sea.


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Belinda Luksic

Belinda Luksic is an Australian travel and lifestyle writer, photographer, foodie and wanderer.