“Why on earth would you want to go to Hawke’s Bay?” – said no one ever.
Hawke’s Bay is swiftly becoming the new Tauranga with ex-city dwellers flocking to the region (there are rising house prices to prove it). And why wouldn’t you? The weather is more often than not pulsing down dry heat and enticing you to hit the bike trails, vineyards, farmers markets, waterfront and bustling boutique shops.
With each visit you can expect the same reward of a wholesome small-town skirted with rural simplicity and a vibrant centre heightened by a list of new appendages, the combination of which making it increasingly difficult to leave. When Hawke’s Bay has chosen to do something, boy does Hawke’s Bay do it well.
Read on to find out what to do in Hawke’s Bay on somewhat of a budget:
Otherwise known as the waterfront paralleling the gorgeous, yet largely unswimmable, stone-bedded beach, the Marine Parade has seen some nifty nips and tucks in recent times. Concrete paths laced with water features and timber sculptures make it an alluring spot for families and socially active excursions. They’ve transformed the old Marineland into a skate park dome situation complete with stadium seating and contemporary music, and there’s even a gated community for children to scoot and cycle on small-scale roads with traffic lights and road markings.
Courtyard at Craggy Range
Also the recipient of some recent décor sprucing, Craggy Range’s courtyard dining is the perfect way to kill an hour or three with family, friends or your significant other between main meal times. It’s an incredible setting buried in vines, herb gardens and large immaculately mown lawns under the escarpment of Te Mata Peak. It’s a taste of luxury that accepts you in all of your casualness. The courtyard menu comprises charcuterie, (the capocollo is a must), fromage and other delicious morsels. Not to mention the accompanying wine selection (well it’s their forte, isn’t it?). On arrival, head towards the cellar and request to dine in the courtyard. If the weather is superb, you won’t regret it.
Healthy, sustainable and organic food lovers rejoice – we have found your Hapī place. If you’re mad about delicious and nourishing fuel, then this wee store on Hastings Street is likely to be where you’ll spend most of your dough in Napier. Elixirs, smoothies, juices, cabinet food, smoothie bowls, breakfast, mains and desserts. It’ll be hard to curb your curiosity.
Other incredible eateries worthy of a dabble include Mister D’s on Tennyson Street, Milk and Honey in Ahuriri and the Albion Canteen on the corner of Albion and Hastings Streets for their unpretentious creations using fresh local produce.
Self-guided cycling tours
The Hawke’s Bay is entwined with bike trails and consequently multiple options to suit your budget and time constraints. Most companies will pick you up from the city, take you to your first location and set you up with bikes, panniers, helmets, water bottles, route instructions and trail maps. You can plan your route to weave in-and-out of all of the notable vineyards tending to tastings at every stop. By the end of the afternoon, beach up on the banks of your last stop and doze off until you’re chauffeured back to the city or bike back to your start point. A typical route from Ahuriri to Havelock North can cost around $75 each plus wine tastings and meals. Unless of course you’re in a position to BYO bike.
And for those who don’t consider themselves a physically fit person by any stretch of the definition, note that the bulk of the trails are flat (and therefore doable). Self-guided tours give you the added benefit of setting your pace too.
Where: Varies by company
Minutes from Napier city centre: Start and end points vary by company.
Napier lays host to McLean Park, the stadium that draws cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter. Usually free entry, park up on the stands or lay on the bank, take in the fresh air and cheer on the region’s up and coming athletes. And if sport isn’t your scene, check in with hawkesbaynz.com to see which gigs, concerts, sessions and other exciting doses of culture are available to tempt your time. There’ll be plenty, promise.
Where: McLean Park, Latham Street, Napier
Minutes from Napier city centre: 6 minutes’ drive or a 40 minute walk
Where: Black Barn Amphitheatre
Minutes from Napier city centre:
Although the swimming on offer along Napier’s waterfront is minimal to say the least, take comfort in the options in the region outside of the hustle and bustle of the town centre. Waimarama beach is one of the most sought-after coastal resorts in the country. Its long stretches of golden beaches make it an ideal spot for walking, jogging, swimming, surfing, and fishing. It’s the perfect escape. But just in case you need to check back in with reality, you won’t be short of mobile reception and will have access to a general store and seaside cafe.
Where: Waimarama, Hasting District
Minutes from Napier city centre: 45 minutes’ drive south via Waimarama Road or SH2
Another picturesque beach option in the opposite direction is Waipatiki beach. Golden sands are a popular drawcard for the settlement, as are the surrounding bush walks and native flora and fauna. The long steep descent to the valley brings you to the Waipatiki Scenic Reserve, a 64ha remnant of coastal forest. So if you’re in search of some restorative Kiwiana, then Waipatiki is your spot.
Where:Waipatiki Road, Tangoio
Minutes from Napier city centre:39 minutes’ drive north via SH2 turning off onto Tangoio Settlement Road in Tangoio
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than being at sea level, the Hawke’s Bay could possibly be even more stunning from above. With an abundance of walks, trails, and tracks, there are some unmissable standouts for those who are willing (and fit) to take on the inclines – specifically Te Mata Peak and Bell Rock. Steeped in history and native beauty, you have to see them to believe them.
Te Mata Peak
Where: Te Mata Peak, Tuki Tuki
Minutes from Napier city centre: 32 minutes’ drive via SH50
Where: 1181 Pohokura Road, Tutira
Minutes from Napier city centre: 1 hour 5 minutes’ drive via SH2