NZ's underrated gem has wine and Art Deco architecture galore
Wineries such as Trinity Hill and Craggy Range have helped put Hawke's Bay, to the east of the North Island, firmly in the mind of drinkers worldwide. Less widely known is the fact the town of Napier, at the centre of it all, is one of the grandest Art Deco cities in the world. Following the earthquake of 1931, it was decided to rebuild the city quickly and in an Art Deco style, with one of the major influencers being American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The result is a city that's an architecture fan’s dream.
See and do
For the annual Napier Art Deco Festival (Feb 20-23 in 2014) up to 70,000 people dress from head to toe in 1930s gear and if you're not wearing that cloche hat or a boater then you're going to stand out. Hundreds of vintage cars, warbirds and steam trains are displayed.
“When you arrive, the first thing you do is get someone to tell you the story,” says guide Tony Mairs from Art Deco Napier while behind the wheel of a restored 1930s vintage car, one of several used on fascinating 75-minute city tours run by the Art Deco Trust. Taking in the history of Napier and how it was rebuilt in just 22 months, the tour is highlighted by the work of architect Louis Hay. 7 Tennyson St, Napier NZ. +64 6 835 0022.
A short drive from the city, the region’s wineries are famous for syrah (shiraz) and chardonnay, as well as sauvignon blanc and merlot. A great way to sample some of the best drops in the area is by bicycle. Book a ‘Wineries Ride’ with On Yer Bike and stop into Trinity Hill – their new-release 2010 Homage Syrah is one of the best yet, winemaker John Hancock told Time Out. For more cycling without the wine drinking, Tākaro Trails offer tours around Hawke's Bay both on-road and off. 9 Nelson Quay, Ahuriri NZ. +64 6 836 5395.
Across in Havelock North, Black Barn's Reserve Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excel, while also expect top food in the outdoor courtyard that's covered in vines. The seafood and game meats here the order of the day. Black Barn Rd, Havelock North NZ. +64 6 8777 985.
When you drive down the hill and see the white fence, gates and architecturally stunning winery that welcomes you to Craggy Range, you know you are in for something special. Craggy Range's standout wines are their Gimblett Gravels Syrah and two single vineyard Chardonnays that will convert any non-Chardy drinker. The restaurant here has been a popular locals’ haunt and its location at the base of the highest peak in the region, Te Mata. 353 Waimarama Rd, Havelock North NZ.
Named after the peak, Te Mata is a local star for its ‘Coleraine’, a wine that sells out almost before it’s released, and a blend of the winery’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. 349 Te Mata Rd, Havelock North NZ. +64 6 877 4399.
Cape Kidnappers, to the south of Napier, is known for its sheer white cliffs that can be seen from kilometres away, along with its luxury lodge (see Stay) and the most accessible gannet colony in the world. Book an overland tour with Gannet Safaris and see these remarkable birds in action. Cape Kidnappers, Te Awanga NZ. +64 6 875 0888.
Eat and drink
If you find yourself here on a Sunday, stop by the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, for local fruit, cheese, olives, game meats and more. Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Kenilworth Rd, Hastings NZ.
The best breakfast in Napier is to be had at Milk and Honey in Ahuriri. Here, across from the beach, order the house-made Bircher muesli or the bagel with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. 10 Hardinge Rd, Ahuriri NZ. +64 6 833 6099.
At bistro Mister D you'll get pulled pork or fish in a bag alongside a Hawke's Bay wine (make ours the Elephant Hill Gewurtztraminer) or a decent Ramos Gin Fizz. 47 Tennyson St, Napier NZ. +64 06 835 5022.
Rustic blue beach shack Pacifica is as hard to get into as any restaurant in New Zealand. Expect top local seafood and meat under the watchful eye of chef Jeremy Rameka. 209 Marine Pde, Napier NZ. +64 6 833 6335.
While they are a drive out of town, it is an absolute must to grab lunch or dinner at Black Barn or Craggy Range – these are two of not just the best winery restaurants in New Zealand, but also Australia (address details as above).
Immaculately presented, spacious and comfortable, the Dome Apartments are located in the centre of town in the Art Deco T&G heritage building, which overlooks Marine Parade and the Pacific Ocean. 101 Marine Pde, Napier NZ. +64 6 835 0707.
A highlight of Hawke's Bay wine country is the rolling hills, rivers and streams, and in the heart of it all in Havelock North are the contemporary-country designed Black Barn Retreats, a series of private lodges that feature four bedrooms and a pool. Tuki Tuki Rd, Havelock North NZ. +64 6 877 7985.
At the top of the accommodation tree in Hawke's Bay is the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a luxury country lodge on a spectacular peninsula that features one of New Zealand's top golf courses and leading in-house guest restaurants. 448 Clifton Rd, Te Awanga NZ. +64 6 875 1900.
Air New Zealand flies daily to Napier via Auckland. Onboard, expect a good range of movies and top cuisine if you book a 'works' or 'works deluxe' fare. Even in economy, you'll still get a great glass of pinot and a bank of Shortland Street episodes or a classic rugby match. For more Hawke’s Bay ideas, visit www.newzealand.com.
Cool Napier stat!
Hawke’s Bay has a hill that has the longest place name in New Zealand. Good luck putting Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu into the GPS.