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Hawkes Bay

Hawke's Bay

Hawke's Bay is a region of New Zealand on the east coast of the North Island. It is the hinterland of the huge 100 km long Hawke Bay, facing the South Pacific Ocean.

Vineyards, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Vineyards, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Hawke's Bay is 14,111 square kilometers, about the same size as the state of Connecticut, or the territory of Northern Ireland, and very sparsely populated. The district has just under 200,000 people, most of them living in the two cities of Napier and Hastings. The population is about 75% pakeha (of European origin) and about 25% Maori.

Hawke's Bay's Maori heritage goes back many centuries. By the time Europeans arrived, Hawke's Bay was dominated by the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe, which was one of the first the Europeans made contact with.

Vineyards and Wine

Vineyard, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Vineyard, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Being on the East Coast, Hawke's Bay is quite dry. Summer is long and hot, and winters are cool, making the area ideal for grape growing. Hawke's Bay produces the second biggest amount of wine in New Zealand after the leader, the Marlborough region (in the north of the South Island).

Hawke's Bay is better suited to producing red wine, whereas Marlborough's wine output is mainly white. One of Hawke's Bay's flagship vineyards is the Te Mata Estate, in Havelock North, established in 1895.

Orchards

Apple blossom, Hastings.
Apple blossom, Hastings.

Besides vineyards, Hawke's Bay also has a great number of orchards and market gardens on the plains. In fact, there are more apples than grapes grown by hectare, with squash, peas, and beans coming in third, fourth and fifth place. While Hawkes Bay has some kiwifruit orchards, it is not a major kiwifruit-producing region.

The Hastings Blossom Festival happens in mid-September with a blossom parade to herald the (Southern Hemisphere) spring.

Farming and Forestry

The hills of Hawke's Bay are mainly dedicated to sheep and cattle farming. The more rugged areas are home to commercial forests, mainly of radiata pine, scattered throughout mainly the northern part of Hawkes Bay. In 2018, almost 2 million tons of logs were exported from the Port of Napier.

Food and Drink

Hawke's Bay's many orchards, wineries, and even breweries make it a great place for foodies and wine-lovers. Most wineries welcome visitors, and there are cafes and restaurants throughout Hawke's Bay that, even if remote, make the drive there worthwhile. Besides the aristocrat of them all, Te Mata, there are fun, rustic wineries such as Crab Farm near Napier, serving great food and, of course, unforgettably good wine from the premises.

Not to spoil the party spirit ... but just make sure the driver sticks to the grape juice only, no alcohol! Drink driving in New Zealand is rigorously prosecuted and punishable by a prison term of up to three months or a fine of up to $4,500.

Arts and Entertainment

The Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, happening annually in October, is the region's big-name arts event and features a fun, eclectic mix of artists and performers from Hawkes Bay, the rest of New Zealand, and even the world. 

Napier's Art Deco Festival takes place in February.

Museums and other attractions include the MTG Hawke's Bay - a museum-theatre-gallery space in Napier and the National Aquarium of New Zealand also in Napier. Hastings City Art Gallery has displays of contemporary New Zealand and international art including pieces by contemporary Maori artists.

Napier

The Dome, T&G Building, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
The Dome, T&G Building, Napier, Hawkes Bay.

Napier is Hawke's Bay's showcase city, a beautiful town, partly on the flat, partly on a hill, beside the sea. The devastating 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake destroyed Napier, and it was rebuilt in the architectural style that was fashionable at the time: art deco. Lovingly maintained, Napier is an architectural gem, beautifully landscaped, that anyone can appreciate for its simple, elegant beauty. The Daily Telegraph Building on Tennyson Street is a standout.

Cape Kidnappers

Gannets at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
Gannets at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay.

Cape Kidnappers is the cape forming the southern end of Hawke Bay. It is famous for its towering cliffs, and a massive colony of gannets at the end. The gannet colony is visitable, with some limitations. But the beach and cliffs alone make for a wonderful, photogenic hike.

Havelock North

St Luke's Anglican Church, Havelock North.
St Luke's Anglican Church, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay.

Havelock North is a very small town about 3 km south-east of the much bigger Hastings. This green, elegant little settlement has the 17-hectare Keirunga Gardens, which also features Keirunga Park Railway, a miniature model railway line that goes all around the gardens.

Havelock North also has the towering Te Mata Peak, which rises to 399 meters above sea level. The view from the top of Te Mata Peak is spectacular and includes a view of the winding Tuki Tuki River--a thrill for any landscape photographer. The peak's silhouette is named the Sleeping Giant and, if you see it, you will immediately understand why.

As mentioned above, Havelock North is also home to the famed Te Mata Estate winery. It also has Arataki Honey, one of New Zealand's top apiaries and honey brands.

Access - Getting There

Hawke's Bay Airport is 8 km north of Napier. It has flights to and from Auckland, Blenheim, Christchurch, and Wellington. There are buses to Napier from Taupo, Rotorua and Wellington. Buses stop at Clive Square Bus Stop in Napier and Napier i-SITE is at 100 Marine Parade (Tel: 06 834 1911). 

Hastings i-SITE is in the Westermans Building on the corner of Russell Street and Heretaunga Street East (Tel: 06 873 5526). The i-SITE in Havelock North is at 1 Te Aute Road (Tel: 06 877 9600).

Accommodation

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