Hawkes Bay, Jewel of the North

August 22

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People who live in Hawkes Bay brag about living in Hawkes Bay. And they’re not just dicks, they’ve got good reason. It’s paradise for anyone who likes a sunny climate, fresh produce, great wine, long stretches of east coast beach, quirky towns and hiking in the hills. So it keeps most folks happy.

What is Hawke’s Bay known for?

Like we mentioned, it’s got a lot going for it. But place is probably best known as being the food and wine region of New Zealand’s North Island. They have some of the best vineyards in New Zealand, and Hawkes Bay produces a quarter of our total grape production.

They produce some of New Zealand’s best wine here, and they also love to share it, with a winery every few miles. There are plenty of options for visitors to experience the wineries, too. Drive yourself, get chauffeured, or wobble and wind your way through the countryside by bike. For bookings and opening hours, it could be a good idea to check the website of each winery and grab a map before you head off. As far as food goes, you won’t have to search far. Picking your own mushrooms or apples, swing by one of the many local roadside stalls, or hit the farmers market in Hastings. Or, of course, sample the local fare from the menu at one of the many cafes and restaurants around.

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The region is also known for Cape Kidnappers, the headland at the end of the peninsula in the south-east corner of Hawkes Bay. It’s home to the largest gannet colony with the easiest access in the world, which means you can see (and smell) the birds right up close and personal.

What is there to do in Hawke’s Bay?

You’re far more likely to run out of time than things to do in this part of New Zealand. Take a hike up Te Mata peak, or explore the land by bike. Take the family to the beach, where the glorious Pacific Ocean is a giant (free) playground for swimming, surfing and fishing. In summer, when the weather is warm, the beaches are some of the most popular in the North Island. Visit Napier, New Zealand’s art deco capital, which was devastated by an earthquake in 1931 and reinvented itself in style. Just two years after the earthquake, the town was declared ‘reborn’. The sea had gone out – way out – which at first was cause for alarm, but the old lagoon soon became productive land and the site of Hawkes Bay airport. The town centre is chocca with cute cafes, art galleries and all-round quirky culture. Even the public loos are cool. Napier is on the coast as well, which means the beach is part of life.

What are the beaches like in Hawke’s Bay?

The beaches are gorgeous. The area is actually most well known for its steep coastal cliffs, but you’ll find plenty of white sand options around. Mahia peninsula is known for its surf, and is a wee way up the coast towards Gisborne, but worth the mission. Closer in, you’ll find Tangoio beach, Waipatiki beach, Ocean beach and Waimarama Beach.

Can you surf at Hawke’s Bay?

Heck yeah. Hawke’s Bay has been known for years as an excellent surf spot. Surf spots, we should say; you’ll find an abundance of places to partake in the sport of wave sliding round these ways. It’s a part of life for many locals, and if you hang around for long enough, you might just find yourself invited to a secret place or two. A word of warning – the local council is strict on freedom campers.

Can you swim at Hawke’s Bay?

Yep, swimming at Hawke’s Bay is great in summer, but the water temperature can get pretty chilly in winter. Waimarama is a gorgeous family beach, close by to Hastings, and one of the most popular spots in New Zealand. It’s no wonder the place is full of people who brag about calling it home; life feels simpler, and yet somehow more full here.

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Where is Te Mata peak?

Located just outside Havelock North, hiking up Te Mata is probably one of the most popular local things to do in Hawke’s Bay. Follow the sign for Te Mata park, and it’s about two hours walking there and back, the perfect little mission to earn a flat white and brekkie or one of the regions fine wines back in town.

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The top of Te Mata rewards with sweeping views across Hawke’s Bay, Havelock North, Napier and the coastline. Soak in the sights of the ripe country behind all those glorious wines, and a sheep or three scattered about. This is New Zealand, after all. Getting a bird’s eye view of the region is better than any visitor’s map, we reckon.

Is it the Hawke’s Bay or Hawke’s Bay?

It’s Hawke’s Bay, but the ‘the’ gets chucked in from time to time, most likely because it’s known as ‘the Bay’ to locals.

Is Hawke’s Bay a good place to live?

With the wine, the food, the surf and the nature, it’s no wonder city slickers (aka people from Auckland) are moving down in droves.

When’s the best time to visit Hawke’s Bay?

Summertime baby. Of course, like everywhere in the world, 2021 has not been the year for travel here. Thanks Covid. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of it soon, and when things open back up, keep Hawkes Bay top of the list.


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