Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions and has character and Art Deco architecture in abundance. Take time to savour the lifestyle in one of the unique accommodations in and around Napier and explore the wineries and rolling countryside.
Napier’s main claim to fame is that it has an outstanding collection of 1930’s architecture and some wonderful examples of Art Deco culture. The city had to be almost entirely rebuilt in 1931, due to an earthquake which struck the town. Because the majority of the damage was repaired within just two years, the architecture is a fascinating mixture of all the different styles of that period - Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical.
To experience this fascinating architecture up close, simply head off on a walking tour of the city. The Art Deco centre offers city maps, for those who would like to guide themselves, or guided tours which are available every morning, afternoon and evening. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll notice some traditional Maori symbols, which were incorporated into many of the buildings.
Napier’s other special attractions include the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Two colonies call this large reserve home, and while the Saddle colony is not available for public the viewing, the Black Reef is the largest and most accessible gannet colony in the world. Seeing the gannets perform daring flight drops from the cliffs to snap up fish from the ocean really is a spectacular sight. If you visit between November and May, keep an eye out for the newly hatched chicks, which will later depart the colony.
Hawke’s Bay is home to over 70 vineyards, which make good use of the region’s alluvial soils. With over 30 cellar doors to visit – including New Zealand’s oldest operating winery – it’s the perfect opportunity to grab a map from the visitors centre and embark on a wine tour. While it is possible to drive between the vineyards, the best way to explore is by taking one of the three designated routes by bike, which can easily be hired from many shops around the area.
Be sure not to miss the Hawke’s Bay farmers’ market, where you can pick up artisan foods and fresh produce. It’s not only the wines here which are locally sourced; the region also produces fruit, honey, cheese and chocolate.