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Hawke's Bay

Food, Wine and Beautiful Scenery




Hotels in Napier
Sightseeing in Napier
Hotels in Hastings 
Hotels in Gisborne 

By Richard Moore


We really like Hawke's Bay. It has sophistication with great food, excellent wines and a laidback atmosphere.

In some parts, such as around Havelock North, you can almost smell the wealth of the inhabitants.

A little cut off from the rest of the country Hawke's Bay is a destination you choose to go to, rather than one you stumble across.

The weather is some of the best in New Zealand and its main centres are Napier, the city rebuilt after being destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1931, and Hastings, which is not as pretty as its sister but does boast an opera house!

Summer is the best time to visit Hawke's Bay as it really is an outdoors region.

Travel around the wineries, stop and have lunch and just mooch about enjoying the countryside.

Take a drive up to the top of Te Mata Peak and check out the views. They are stunning. Look out over the tortured landscape of Hawke's Bay and the azure waters of Hawke Bay (yes it is different), or Cape Kidnappers.

Speaking of Cape Kidnappers - the area boasts some of the largest gannet colonies going and you can take tours to see the birds.

One way is to hop on a tractor and cruise along the beach at low tide, or take a four-wheel-drive bus over the farms around the colonies.

The Gannet Safaris bus trip is terrific and you can have an absolute hoot with guides such as Jo Fisher. She's a local artist - with a fabulous style of colourful landscape painting - and will let you know everything you need to know about the peninsula, its geography and history.

If you are lucky you'll even get to be the gateboy - that's hopping out of the bus to open and shut animal barriers on the farm. I was the lucky one on our trip.

You get to have photo stops every now and then - including one at a stunning spot overlooking the 300-metre cliffs - and are cheerily introduced to the Bankers' Corners. These are sheer drops that farmers, ever enamoured of banks, think financial managers should take drives off.

Now beforehand we were warned that the gannet colonies are pretty stinky places - courtesy of the projectile-pooing birds - but it wasn't that bad.

The gannets begin to lay eggs in October and November and the best time to visit is late January/February.

There are three main colonies, including one you can get very close too, and the more spectacular one of the end of the Cape above some fabulous rock formations.

The adventure takes about three hours, costs $60 and is well worth both the time and effort. And don't forget to take your camera as the birds are just so graceful.

You join Gannet Safaris near Clifton Beach and the tractor-riding Gannet Beach Adventures at the beach itself.

Nearby is a great cafe where you can relax before or after your trip.

Across the road and down a bit from the cafe is Wool World, a magnificent old building that houses a fascinating museum - with live shearing - on the place of wool in New Zealand.

You get a great guided tour and can buy wool items as well as see how the little baa-ey things get shorn with both hand shears and modern equipment.

Two places that are highly recommended to have dinner at are simply amazing spots.

The Old Church in Meeanee Rd is stunning. The building is fabulous, the outdoor eating area is gorgeous and inside it is a decorator's delight. Check out the photos.

Food wise, The Old Church is excellent and the prices very reasonable for what you get. Often you'll pay as much for a meal at a city cafe as you will to have a really great night out here.

The second highly recommended spot is Pipi in Havelock North. Pipi is highly visible - being a shocking pink building.

Inside the tables are pink-and-white stripes and the Wednesday we went in it was packed to the rafters.

We learned why as the food was brilliant. The gourmet pizzas are spot on and the pasta dishes superb.









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