Hawke’s Bay Has It All - Discover Everything From Wine & Art Deco to Ancient Maori Culture
By B Ang
Credit: Tourism New Zealand/Chris McLennan
Te Mata Estate
Vineyards upon vineyards and cities with Art Deco chic, Hawke’s Bay offers food for the soul and the stomach.
All About Wines...
Lying along New Zealand’s east coast on the North Island Hawke’s Bay has some of the longest sunshine hours, making it the second largest wine producer in the country. There are more than 70 wineries, 40 offering tastings and quite a few have restaurants on-site. A growing number of vineyards also provide accommodations and tours for visitors.
Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine region, thanks to the arrival of its first European settlers. In 1851, a group of French missionaries founded the Mission Estate Winery. Today, this refurbished seminary has an underground tasting cellar, a highly regarded restaurant and conference facilities. Each January/February, the Mission Estate Annual Concert attracts big name artists like Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Ray Charles.
Other local wineries of note are: Brookfields Vineyard in Napier for Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris; and Gimblett Gravels, known for its Cabernet-Merlot and Chardonnay.
Esk Valley Estate is one of Hawke’s Bay’s finest boutique wineries, known for its unique, hand-crafted wine styles, while in Havelock North, one of New Zealand’s top wineries, Te Mata Estate, produces Coleraine, a rich but elegant Cabernet-Merlot blend, Bullnose Syrah-Elston Chardonnay and Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc. Clearview Estate near Cape Kidnappers, is known for its Chardonnay and Bordeaux-style reds.
To learn more about wines and vineyards, Hawke’s Bay Wine Trail allows visitors to enjoy the fruits of the land at their own pace.
Napier has one of the highest concentrations of Art Deco architecture in the world, with a colourful heritage story to boot. During the early part of the 20th century it was hit by disastrous earthquakes and fires. The city rebuilt itself and adapted the Art Deco concept with Stripped Classical and Spanish Mission styles. Each February, the Art Deco Weekend is abuzz with vintage cars, planes, and clothes, and jazz concerts, while around town, shops sell antique and imitation Art Deco pieces.
The statue of Pania of the Reef in Napier’s Marine Parade commemorates a Maori myth about a beautiful maiden who was lured into the depths of the Pacific Ocean by the sea people, never to return to the land of humans. When passing over Pania Reef, it is said that Pania can be seen with outstretched arms, trying to return to her handsome Maori lover.
Along State Highway 50, the Waiohiki stump carvings were mostly created by the Pa Whakairo Group of artists. Working on the stumps from felled macrocarpa trees on the edge of the Napier Golf links course, these works of art have been turned into roadside attractions.
Other Sights To Behold
Te Mata Peak provides a panoramic view of Napier and the hills beyond. It is a 15-minute drive to the summit from the town of Havelock North. Hike or mountain bike up the hill and for the more adventurous souls, descend from the peak by paragliding.
Cape Kidnappers was named by Captain James Cook after an incident involving the local natives and the failed kidnapping of the servant of Cook’s Tahitian interpreter. A large migratory gannet colony has made its home on the cape. From October to March, about 15,000 birds stop here to hatch their young and prepare them for their long migratory flight. Clients can hike eight kilometres along the beach from Clifton during low tide, or book with tour operators conducting 4WD or tractor-ride trips.
Credit: Tourism New Zealand/Chris McLennan
Gannet colony, Cape Kidnappers.
The Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk in Te Urewera National Park is known as one of the 10 great walks of NZ. Hugging the western shoreline, this 46-kilometre trek takes three to four days to complete. As much of the park is not easily accessible to help protect its native wildlife, portions of the walk can be enjoyed as a day trip using the water taxi.
To learn about the Maori culture and heritage, Waimarama Maori Tourism offers the “Walk With the Ancestors” tour of Hakikino, a Maori heritage site that has only recently been opened to the public. Through a combination of stories, songs, rituals and crafts, personalized guides bring visitors through the archaeological remains of the village that thrived between the 14th and 15th centuries.
Spoilt For Choice
New Zealand’s oldest prison is found in Napier. From 1862 to 1993, the complex morphed through different uses – army barracks, quarantine centre, lunatic asylum and of course, jail. Tours include sites of hard labour, escapes, the hanging yard, graves of the executed and possible ghost sightings. To sample life in prison, visitors can get a mug-shot taken and even be locked up in solitary confinement.
The New Zealand National Aquarium in Napier features the country’s largest display of aquatic life and creatures that are uniquely Kiwi like the Kiwi bird and tuatara (a lizard-like reptile). See hundreds of fish swim and feed above, and around while going through the moving underwater walkway.
More New Zealand
For more information, visit www.newzealand.com/travel/trade.