Otherwise known as “the fruit bowl of New Zealand”, Hawke’s Bay is an agricultural paradise. The diversity of the rich land of this region generate New Zealand’s finest fresh produce. Depending on changing seasons, Hawke’s Bay delivers crispy apples, sweet berries, juicy stone fruit, and fresh asparagus. You can also find native kiwi fruit along with buttery avocados here, although the Bay of Plenty, further north, is one of the largest producers of kiwi and avocados.
Wineries in Hawke’s Bay are renowned for their Chardonnay and gourmet artisan producers offer local specialties such as olive oils, cider, chocolates, cheese, and honey.
Friendly farmers are more than happy to share their gourmet treasures with the public. Many will offer demonstrations and tastings. Small boutique stores or even a roadside stall, stumbled upon as you drive through the lush country pastures and plains of Hawke’s Bay, are welcoming. Additionally, attend a weekend farmer’s market where a plethora of local produce and producers proclaim their own specialties of the region.
Some of New Zealand’s finest wines are produced in Hawke’s Bay. Award winning wines from picturesque vineyards such as Clearview Estate or Elephant Hill can be sampled at cellar doors. Most wineries have restaurants or cosy dining areas where enjoying a glass of Syrah with a delicious platter of cheese (best paired with a blue cheese) is bliss. Or why not visit Hawke’s Bay’s wineries by bike. Bike hire is widely available throughout New Zealand or join a bicycle winery tour. It’s a great way of discovering this unique region.
Famous landmarks of this region include Cape Kidnappers, where the largest mainland bird colony of gannets reside or Te Mata Peak, where stunning views of Hawke’s Bay can be seen by foot, bike or car.
The main city of Hawke’s Bay is Napier. After a devastating earthquake in 1931, the town was rebuilt in true Art Deco style and has remained an important focal point of the area. The reflection of a bygone era through beautifully restored Art Deco buildings and architecture has resulted in world notability. Every year in February, the Art Deco Festival, held in Napier attracts thousands, locally and from around the globe. A 1930’s celebration of fashion, vintage cars and music, bring history back to life within the city of Napier.
The Marine Parade is a great place for a stroll, with playgrounds for the kids, attractive gardens and a beautiful 3km coastline of the Bay. A short drive up to the scenic point of Bluff Hill Lookout, an old artillery battery, ensures spectacular views of the Bay and Napier Port, Hawke’s Bay’s gateway to the world.
Napier’s café and restaurant scene are second to none. Mr D bistro, is a trendy eatery serving fresh local produce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Why not try one of their irresistible homemade doughnuts which are served with individual syringed fillings. Choose your own filling of traditional jam, custard or chocolate. Alternatively, for the grown-ups, be adventurous and sample an adult syringe filling of flavoured cognac, rum or vodka options!
Other towns such as Hastings and Havelock North are a mecca for food and wine lovers. These rich gourmet areas also have their fair share of deserving produce and markets. The pretty country towns with sweeping panoramic views of the nearby Te Mata Peak reveal real beauty. For great organic and fair trade coffee, try Bay Espresso, coffee roasters in Hastings. And the local restaurant, recommended by our gracious hosts at Lawn Cottages in nearby Clive, is a prime example. Off the Track restaurant and café is an ideal place to absorb the natural beauty of New Zealand as well as enjoy good food and local wine. It’s a place that suits all. Families, friends, and functions with indoor and outdoor dining options including gorgeous views any time of the day.
Therefore, if you classify yourself as a bit of a “foodie” and are in New Zealand, do check out this fruitful coastal region in the north island, and voyage on a culinary odyssey in Hawke’s Bay.