Does a cab sauv in hand, sea lapping at your toes sound a tempting scene? Then make tracks for the floodplains and foothills of Hawkes Bay, 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.
- Alpha Domus– the vision began in 1990 with the purchase of bare land and planting began in 1991. The vineyard lies in the renowned Bridge Pa triangle wine district of Hawkes Bay. From these soils, Alpha Domus winery produces world-class wines from a wide range of varietals including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, sauvignon blanc, semillon, chardonnay, viognier and syrah. (129 Carsons Rd, Waiheke Island). Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-5:00pm- from 24th October to 6th June).
- Clearview estate– this is the closest vineyard to the sea in this part of the world, according to co-owner Tim Turvey. “There’s nothing you can’t grow here,” he says. Around a dozen varieties are in the ground here and Clearview crafts about 20 wines each year – fruit is sourced both from the winery’s coastal blocks and land in the Gimblett Gravels. I highly recommend their reserve chardonnay. (194 Clifton Road, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay). Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-5:00pm
- Craggy Range– is housed in a structure that never fails to draw gasps from first-time visitors. The dome of the Sophia Room (housing a ring of 5000-litre French oak fermenters) rises adjacent to the light-filled tasting room that offers unparalleled views of the rugged cliff face up to Te Mata peak. A tour of the facility, allowing you to explore the subterranean cellars and private tasting room, is highly recommended. My prefferd wines from their extensive collection are the riesling and sauvignon blanc. A visit here is a must! (253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay). Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-5:00pm
- Elephant Hill– was established by Reydan and Roger Weiss from Germany following a visit to Te Awanga in 2001. In 2003, they established 25 ha of vineyard to produce wines at the highest level of quality reflecting their origins. The vines enjoy the maritime influence of the Te Awanga district which is cooler than sites further inland and are planted in a variety of soils from sand to fine clay and silt. The varieties planted are sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, viognier and chardonnay in the whites with merlot and syrah in red. (86 Clifton Rd Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay) Cellar door open 7 days, 11:00-4:00pm
- Stonecroft– you’ll see the small timber cottage that doubles as the cellar door. It’s a no-frills operation, but that’s fine because the wines provide all the wow you need, so much so, that two of the wines are offered on the winedinerecline online store. (121 Mere Road, Hastings, Hawkes Bay) Cellar door open Fri-Sun, 11:00-4:00pm
- Te Awa wines– is a single estate winery who embraces the rich diversity of their unique terrior. Te Awa’s philosophy is to achieve balanced wines, reflecting the grapes from which they are made and having the individuality of the vineyard site’. They apply some traditional winemaking methods such as harvesting and vinifying each parcel of vineyard separately. That gives them slight variations in flavour and texture so they have more options when they blend their wines. (2375 State Highway 50, Hastings, Hawkes Bay) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-4:00pm
- Te Mata estate– hotly contested as the oldest winery in the country, there’s still a vibrant atmosphere in the cellar door where wines made by Pete Cowley and Philip Brodie are enthusiastically explained. Independent, family-owned, exclusively Hawke’s Bay and committed to making premium wine on site is the Te Mata mantra. I highly recommend their Coleraine, Awatea and Elston range. (349 Te Mata Road, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-5:00pm
- Trinity Hill– Trinity Hill’s reputation is based on their ability to produce outstanding wines that explode with fruit character and yet retain the sophistication and complexity one would expect from old world wines.
John Hancock is regarded as one of New Zealands leading and most innovative winemakers. His wines are highly respected worldwide. (2396 State Highway 50, Hastings, Hawkes Bay) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-4:00pm
- Unison– Unison vineyard is a family estate, established in 1993 at the heart of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District in Hawkes Bay. The six hectares of vineyard are planted to merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Great attention to detail is paid in the vineyard – high vine planting density and deliberate low yields per vine enable the growing of consistent, fully-ripened and healthy grapes every year. Due to the consistency in producing high-quality wines, Unison Vineyard has been rated by Jancis Robinson (Concise Wine Companion) as one of 28 up-and-coming producers world wide “… whose success seems most obvious to me at the beginning of the 21st century …” – the only winery in NZ which has received this accolade. (2163 State Highway 50, Hastings, Hawkes Bay) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:00-4:00pm
- Vidal estate – Anthony Joseph Vidal, a young emigrant from Spain, was one of the first winemakers to appreciate the natural potential of the area. He established Vidal Estate in 1905 and his spirit of adventure coupled with a lifelong commitment to crafting classic, elegant wines remains an inspiration to this day. (913 St. Aubyn street east, Hastings, Hawkes Bay). Cellar door open 7 days, 11:00-5:00pm
- Alessandro’s– all food here is made fresh in-house, combining the finest quality imported Italian ingredients with fresh, locally grown produce. (24 Havelock Rd, Havelock North). http://alessandrospizzeria.co.nz/
- Bistronomy– as the restaurant states “We’re less about fine dining and more about fun dining, and like to make food you can share, food you can talk about, food you’ll want more of, and food you’ll come back for”. (40 Hastings St, Napier) http://bistronomy.co.nz/
- Elephant Hill Estate & Winery– serves up Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, such as duck risotto or fresh ocean fish, in its architecturally arresting modern restaurant and bar. Soak up striking vistas of Cape Kidnappers through floor-to-ceiling glass windows or from outdoors on the poolside terrace. (86 Clifton Rd, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay). www.elephanthill.co.nz/
- Emporium Eatery & Bar– has a truly unique look and feel –rich leathers, a stunning marble bar, warm wood and just the right amount of Art Deco. Emporium mixes the modern with the classic, to create a very special atmosphere in this iconic heritage building. With a menu meant for sharing, and the most extensive beverage list around, Emporium is just the spot to gather friends, family or colleagues to enjoy the finest in Hawke’s Bay hospitality. (Cnr of Tennyson Street & Marine Parade, Napier) http://www.emporiumbar.co.nz/
- Fun Buns– This is a cool new place in Hastings run by a young guy by the name of Nick Pike. The fried chicken and bao are the best and come in a series of unlikely kiwi flavours. It can be hard to get a table as they have just opened and don’t have a lot of seating, so while you’re waiting you can walk over the road to ‘Common Room’ for a drink. (300 Heretaunga St E, Hastings)
- Mister D– for an expression of the hip, future-focused side of Napier, Mister D is a café-cum-bar-cum-dining establishment whose tables fill up fast almost every evening. In fact, the menu here is not just a document advertising the day’s food but a mix-tape of the owners’ quirks and alternative style, imploring you to come in and sit for a while. (47 Tennyson St, Napier) http://www.misterd.co.nz/
- Pacifica– high-end dinning is on offer in this coastal city at Pacifica, but within a refreshingly relaxed and endearing setting. New Zealand’s familial, unpretentious and welcoming spirit abounds in this restaurant, set in a weathered beach bungalow. Diners are treated to an ever-changing array of dishes, determined according to the best available local produce. The strong connection that New Zealander’s have with their surroundings comes out in a menu celebrating locally sourced seafood. (209 Marine Parade, Napier) www.pacificarestaurant.co.nz/
- Pipi’s café– everyone that comes to Hawkes Bay has to experience Pipi’s café in Havelock North. It’s one of those places that is a home away from home. I love its shabby chic appeal, its amazing pizzas, honest flavoursome menu and the ‘help yourself to drinks’ fridge. This place is a must!(16 Joll Rd, Havelock North). www.pipicafe.co.nz/
- Provedore– situated in Napier’s trendy Quay Marina, Provedore is a bustling tapas bar and restaurant set in the appealing art deco New Zealand shipping company building. With typical Kiwi candor, the restaurant blends great quality food with a nonchalant atmosphere, and local bands playing over the weekends. (60 West Quay, Napier)
- Te Awa Restaurant– executive chef Stephen Tindall is well known in Hawke’s Bay for his past successes at the bayswater bistro and Craggy Range’s TerrÔir. After five years working in Melbourne, Australia’s food capital, he’s returned to the Bay to share his culinary genius at Te Awa. Seafood is his specialty, and his menu showcases a wide selection of styles from small plates (try the lamb cigars) right through to hearty, rib-sticking mains. (2375 State Highway 50, Hastings, Hawkes Bay) www.teawacollection.com/pages/restaurant
- Terrôir at Craggy Range– its name reflecting that its food, the vineyard’s wine and its culture, come together sublimely, in a unique and dramatic setting. Terrôir sources Hawke’s Bay’s finest meat, produce and seafood from the region’s land and sea, providing fabulous New Zealand cuisine matched with superb single vineyard wines. Each dish is prepared sensitively and cooked by skilled people who are passionate about quality food, presented in a style which is simple and real. (253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay). www.craggyrange.com/experience-craggy-range/terroir-restaurant/
- Black barn luxury retreats– there are sixteen exclusive luxury retreats, all in spectacular locations in Hawkes Bay. Two are on the vineyard, ten are dotted along the spectacular Tuki Tuki River Valley, two are on the ocean, one is found nestled within close to 6 acres of gardens and one is beside Cape Kidnappers Golf course. The retreats range in size from two bedrooms to six and are all luxuriously appointed and equipped with every amenity. They are all available on a sole-occupancy basis, assuring complete peace and privacy. The retreats have a range of facilities including swimming pools and tennis courts. All offer total luxury, privacy and superb decor. http://www.blackbarn.com/retreats
- Breckenridge Lodge– If superb Kiwi hospitality, a peaceful location and gourmet food & wine are amongst your pleasures in life, you have come to the right place…the lodge is nestled in the valley of Omarunui. With only five guestrooms the lodge is personal and intimate, and each room is luxurious and private, facing out over the endless vines. http://www.breckenridgelodge.co.nz/
- Cape Kidnappers– Cape Kidnappers is one of the world’s extraordinary top luxury destinations, set on a 6,000 acre sheep and cattle farm with breathtaking views over the Pacific. With just 24 ultra-comfortable and spacious “cottage” suites and a four bedroom “Owner’s Cottage” , all with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. A stay at this Relais & Chateaux property is truly “farm luxe” at its best. www.capekidnappers.com/
- Greenhill Lodge– is an opulent yet tranquil retreat, situated on a hilltop overlooking lush farm and grazing land. This historic mansion houses four ensuite guestrooms, most of which open to wide verandas and sensational views over magnificent gardens with historic mature trees. Behind the lodge lies a gymnasium, swimming pool and private orchard, herb and vegetable garden. The lodge is located just 25 minutes from Napier and 15 minutes from Havelock North or Hastings. www.greenhill.co.nz/
- Millar Road– offers seriously stylish accommodation on a beautiful vineyard estate in Hawke’s Bay. Views from Millar Road take in mountain ranges, Hawke’s Bay wine country and the Pacific Ocean. Millar Road is a true New Zealand design experience. Furniture, furnishings and art sourced from leading New Zealand practitioners combine with award-winning architecture to create a relaxing getaway in a stylish, contemporary and distinctly New Zealand manner. www.millarroad.co.nz/
- Tom’s cottages– recently named by The Times as “the best wilderness hideaway in the world”, Tom’s Cottages are two luxury self-catering cottages nestled between the Tuki Tuki River and Te Mata Peak, an idyllic peaceful retreat, surrounded by nature and breath-taking views. www.tomscottages.co.nz/
- Black Barn Art Gallery – has gained a reputation as Hawkes Bay’s leading gallery showcasing works by noted NZ artists in a beautiful space that is small and humble next to Black Barn vineyard and restaurant on the outskirts of Havelock North. Black Barn also hosts a ‘Black Barn Market’ on Saturdays in the summertime sporting whitebait fritters, Hohepa cheeses, fresh organic fruit and produce, local olive oils and Hawthorne ground coffee. (Black Barn Road, RD12 Havelock North).
- Cape Kidnappers golf course– rated by many as among the top golf layouts in the world, the Cape Kidnappers golf course offers a combination of breathtaking scenery and world-class golf like no other. A booking well in advance is highly recommended! www.capekidnappers.com/
- Coastal wine cycles– located in coastal Te Awanga, coastal wine cycles have classic beach-cruiser bicycles from California, which are perfect for relaxing cycling. The cycling is flat, and whether you want to go for 30 minutes or 6 hours, they’ve got the trail for you. http://www.winecycles.co.nz/
- Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market– wander at leisure around the market, listening to local music and discovering the diverse range of products grown and produced in Hawkes Bay – from hand-made cheeses, breads, ice-cream, chocolates and meat products to seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. (Every Sunday 8.30am – 12.30pm) Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds- Kenilworth Rd, Hastings
- Maraetotara waterfall– a hidden secret and is situated 10 minutes out of Havelock North on the way to Ocean beach. Pack a lunch and take a river side trek along the riverbank until you reach the waterfall. It even has a 5m high rope swing for the brave. It’s a beautiful serene spot popular with the locals in summertime.
- Napier– is known as the Art Deco city and it is absolutely worth a visit for the architecture buff although I suspect non architecture buffs would find this divine little town fascinating too. There was a massive earthquake in 1931 that rocked Hawke’s Bay for more than three minutes which destroyed the vast majority of buildings. Rebuilding began almost immediately, and much of it was completed in two years. New buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. A visit to this beautifully preserved city is a must!
- Te Mata Peak– stands nearly 400 metres above sea level. From the summit of the peak you can enjoy some of the best views over the Hawkes Bay area. The nature trails on Te Mata Peak are great for hikers and mountain bikers. It’s an excellent cardio workout going up, but the huge views make the exertion totally worthwhile. Other hiking and biking trails in the Te Mata Trust Park lead through forest and along limestone valleys. (Te Mata Peak Rd, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay)