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.