This month's destination is the gloriously sunny fruit bowl of Hawke's Bay. About two thirds of the way down the North Island and about 90 minutes east of Taupo, Hawke’s Bay has two main centres, the cities of Napier and Hastings. They’re nestled at the edge of a region known for scrumptious, locally grown food, award-winning vineyards, Art Deco architecture, and a balmy Mediterranean climate.
Now dubbed the ‘Art Deco Capital of the World’, Napier suffered a 7.8 earthquake in 1931, which claimed about 250 lives and lifted the seabed by 1-2 metres. The town’s forefathers (and foremothers, no doubt) set out to rebuild immediately and put a plan in place to develop all land that rose out of sea during the earthquake. Rebuilding on a large scale during the 1930s meant adopting the glamourous and modern Art Deco style: identified by its, pale and pastel colours sleek lines and geometric motifs like chevrons and zigzags. More than 100 new buildings went up in just two years, making Napier one of the world’s best spots to spy this architectural style. Every February, Napier celebrates its Art Deco Festival with more than 250 events over a week that brings in a tidy $12m to the economy – transforming the town with vintage cars, dancers, and performers.
Just 15 minutes down the road is Hastings and the landscape completely changes with vast fields laid out with grapes or fruit trees. Around 60% of New Zealand apples are grown in the Hawke’s Bay. And wine-wise, the region is known for its meaty Syrah’s, although the local tipple also laps up plentiful accolades for other varietals like Chardonnay, Merlot Cabernet blends and Pinot Gris. Food stalls abound with locally produced artisanal goodies and orchard farm gates groan with an abundant fruit harvest at this time of year. If you’re feeling energetic, take advantage of the Region’s 200km of easy cycle trails to get to each orchard or ride between vineyards.
Our team of intrepid beekeepers at The True Honey Co. uses the Hawke’s Bay for placing hives in both warm and cool months, as its sterling climate gives them the best of both worlds. We also love to work with landowner partners on our wintering blocks, who look after our stripy wee friends while they take a well-deserved rest after an industrious season of gathering all that marvellous Mānuka honey.
Top things to add to the bucket list when visiting Hawke’s Bay
- Slurp some of the regions award winning Syrah’s at one of the 100 vineyards or 80 wineries. Compliment with a wonderful selection of fine restaurants, cafes and dining options incorporating fresh local produce.
- F.A.W.C the regions twice yearly food extravaganza is a delicious event series of food and wine experiences
- If you can’t make it to the Art Deco Festival, then take a guided tour with one of the Art Deco Guides and shop for 1930’s memorbilia in the Art Deco shop.
- Visit the Gannets – either overland or via the beach front. Cape Kidnappers is home to the largest and most accessible gannet colony.
- Get on your bike – enjoy over 200kms of flat easy cruisy cycle trails. Make sure to join in the fun of The Big Easy if you are visiting over Easter weekend.
- Hastings is home to oldest and largest Farmer’s Market open every Sunday from 9-12.30. Shop directly from the producers.
- Visit The True Honey Co. pop up shop and snaffle some of the good stuff for yourself.