Heat, wine and art deco vibes. Our digital ed has the prefect itinerary for a Hawke’s Bay holiday.


Grab your helmets

World-famous winer­ies are obvi­ous­ly a big draw­card here. Take in the scenery while you’re at it, by cycling your way around on self-guid­ed tours. This could prove chal­leng­ing (and per­haps a lit­tle dan­ger­ous) after a few stops if you get car­ried away though! If you’re not plan­ning on overindulging and want to hit the best spots, focus on the big three local vine­yards to sam­ple the best Hawke’s Bay has to offer.

Wine and dine

Mis­sion Estate should def­i­nite­ly be the first check­point for any vis­i­tor. The old­est win­ery in New Zealand is a 30-min­ute bike ride (or 10 min­utes by car) from Napier, mak­ing it an easy pit stop on the way to the oth­er sights. The his­toric sem­i­nary build­ing over­looks the vine­yard and instant­ly trans­ports you back to 1851, when the win­ery was estab­lished. Ele­gant archi­tec­ture, gor­geous views, and fan­tas­tic food, make it the per­fect place for a lazy out­door lunch. Leav­ing this place before sam­pling their cheeses would be a crime – we rec­om­mend the creamy blue Kapi­ti Kiko­rangi at $33. This price includes two oth­er choic­es, along with a range of fruits, jams and crack­ers.

The oth­er two must-sees are Crag­gy Range (vot­ed Best New World Win­ery) and Ele­phant Hill. Designed by the same archi­tect, they share the same stan­dards of pro­duc­ing the best wine, although skip­ping one for the oth­er would be a mis­take. Sur­round­ed by epic moun­tains, Crag­gy Range cel­e­brates all things French – from the cuisine to the archi­tec­ture and land­scapes. Ele­phant Hill melds Ger­man pre­ci­sion with inno­va­tion, focus­ing on high tech­nolo­gies and out­stand­ing pre­sen­ta­tion. Ask for their icon­ic Aira­vata Syrah degus­ta­tion ($120 per bot­tle, while the degus­ta­tion is only $5) and be ready to watch the show.

That old-world feeling

To get into the fes­tive Hawke’s Bay spir­it, start with explor­ing its gem – Napier. The best way to dis­cov­er this Art Deco city is by dri­ving around in a vin­tage car. You can either rent a love­ly Hoot­ers open-top next to the Mason­ic Hotel, or book one of the per­fect­ly pol­ished Art Deco Trust cars around the cor­ner. Make sure to ask for Tere Morales-Probert as your guide – 45 min­utes in the car with her and you’ll want to move here imme­di­ate­ly.

Take a hike

After a tour around the city and a quick lunch, head towards Have­lock North, a qui­et town next to the pic­turesque Te Mata Peak. But no more dri­ving today; it’s time to burn some calo­ries! Leave the car by the main entrance – only you, a big water bot­tle, and spec­tac­u­lar sur­round­ings, are ahead. The 5 km hik­ing trail across Te Mata is chal­leng­ing, but def­i­nite­ly worth the sweat. Just imag­ine bal­anc­ing on a nar­row path at the very top of the moun­tain chain – scorched by the sun, val­leys on both sides, wind in your hair, and giant red­woods at your feet. Wel­come to the real Mid­dle Earth!

From bay rides to birdwatching

For a dif­fer­ent kind of adven­ture, noth­ing beats a trac­tor ride along the coast to the famous Cape Kid­nap­pers. Named after an inci­dent dur­ing Cap­tain Cook’s 1769 voy­age, when his Tahi­tian cab­in boy was mis­tak­en­ly kid­napped by local Maori, the cape is home to the world’s largest acces­si­ble gan­net colony. There are sev­er­al ways to get to the beau­ti­ful birds, includ­ing a 9 km walk along the beach (just remem­ber to track the tides). But by far the most excit­ing way to get there is with Gan­net Beach Adven­tures. The­se guys use vin­tage 1949 trac­tors to take you right to the bot­tom of Cape Kid­nap­pers. And if a trip on the machi­nes isn’t enough of an expe­ri­ence itself, the huge trac­tors are dri­ven into the ocean or up the mas­sive stones, giv­ing you an unbe­liev­able adren­a­line rush.

Time travel in your sleep

Hawke’s Bay is all about atmos­phere, and the Mason­ic Hotel in Napier is the per­fect place to immerse your­self in the city’s archi­tec­ture. After it was destroyed in the 1931 earth­quake, the hotel was rebuilt in the Art Deco style to suit the times, as was the case for many of the oth­er build­ings that had been a ect­ed by the quake.

While not open to the pub­lic, the secret under­ground bar (which oper­at­ed dur­ing the years when alco­hol was pro­hib­it­ed) remains the same. Every­thing is left as if it were aban­doned yes­ter­day: from the coun­ter to the graf­fi­ti and chairs.

Many oth­er things are pre­served here, just as they were made, near­ly a cen­tu­ry ago: old-fash­ioned chan­de­liers, mir­rors, mas­sive stair­cas­es, and tiny doors – show­ing how slim and how short peo­ple used to be!

And the most excit­ing part about this hotel? Not a sin­gle one of its 46 rooms is the same as any oth­er. All the more rea­son to plan repeat vis­its.

Locat­ed in the heart of the city – whether you’re in search of the Six Sis­ters (a row of bright­ly-paint­ed Vic­to­ri­an hous­es along Marine Parade), return­ing from a jazz con­cert, or just tak­ing a stroll along the streets while enjoy­ing a scoop of home­made ice cream from the near­est shop – you will nev­er be too far from the hotel.

Travel by:

BIKE: bikeabouttours.co.nz

CAR: hooters-hire.co.nz, artdeconapier.com

TRACTOR: gannets.com


Mis­sion Estate: missionestate.co.nz

Crag­gy Range: craggyrange.com

Ele­phant Hill: elephanthill.co.nz