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NZ Hawkes Bay Information

Known for its excellent red wines and consistently idyllic climate, Hawkes Bay is located along the east coast of the North Island.  It has a population of 142,947 and is the fourth most urbanized area in New Zealand. As a curl of land sheltered in the West by the Kaweka and Rashine mountain ranges, Hawkes Bay has a tendency to escape the worst weather and remains temperate year round. While named after Sir Edward Hawke by Captain Cook in the 1770s, it is commonly written as Hawkes Bay, and the use of an apostrophe is actually considered incorrect. The bay itself extends from the Mahia Peninsula to the Cape Kidnappers.

Some of the major cities in Hawkes Bay include: Hastings, Havelock North and Napier, all of which have a variety of attractions for the traveler.  Whether it’s Napier’s eye-catching art deco architecture or Hastings’ historic Spanish mission, the area is known for its attention to the senses.

The city of Napier is one of the most enticing architectural spots in the area.  After a devastating earthquake in 1931, Napeir rebuilt, giving the entire town an Art Deco look.  Guided Art Deco tours provide interesting insights into the city that can also be gained by a visit to the Hawkes Bay Museum. Galleries and antique shops in the area provide the perfect chance to pick up a truly unique gift.

The sunny beaches of Napier offer the majority of surfing options in the area, leading down to Cape Kidnappers gannet colony on the eastern tip of Hawkes bay.  Like so much of New Zealand, the Cape was named by Captain Cook, in this case, after a Maori local attempt to abduct a member of the crew from Cook’s ship.

It is possible to explore the more rustic aspects of wine country, with guided and unguided tours through orchards, and farms as well as the less commonly known honey, cheese and chocolate tours. Like most of New Zealand, the inhabitants of the area are known for their hospitality, and a great way to interact with these locals is through staying at a Bed and Breakfast, or by choosing a home/farm stay and really feel the local culture. 

There are more than 30 wineries in Hawkes Bay open for tastings, many of which have relaxing dining options.  Explore the vineyards of Hawkes Bay by car, or rent a mountain bike for the trip. A few more active options include fishing and kayaking the Mohaka or Tukituki River, paragliding from Te Mata Peak.

The area’s celebration of Matariki, the Maori New Year, is reputedly brilliant.  Events are planned from the beginning of June and extend to the end of the month throughout the region.

Another point of interest might by the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, also in June, located in the northern part of Hawkes Bay in Wairoa.  The festival offers contemporary and more traditional Maori films.  The small, picturesque town is strongly representative of the Maori character, just an hour and a half’s scenic drive from Napeir and Hastings.


NZ Hawkes Bay references

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