I’ve just had a few days in the North Island, flying firstly to Wellington, then driving with my sister and one of my brothers to the Hawkes Bay. Hawkes Bay is on the east coast of the North Island and is known as a wine region.
We based ourselves in Napier, a city that was devastated in 1931 by an earthquake. 256 people died at the time, mainly as a result of fires that swept through the city when gas pipes were broken. It was rebuilt very quickly, almost within two years, and boasts the style of the time, Art Deco. As someone living through a slow rebuild it’s hard to imagine how quickly Napier rebuilt – but then they didn’t have the red tape the same back then, I guess. However, the Art Deco look is gorgeous, with lovely facades and frontages to admire.
We had a lovely little beach cottage, and settled in for a few days of enjoying wine and food. On our first evening we went and got some information for what to do, and wandered the beach front, where we saw Pania – and I had a photo taken trying to adopt her pose!
On our first full day we went wine-tasting. We chose to go towards Cape Kidnappers, and do the Havelock North end of the bay. We visited Craggy Range and Black Barn wineries, had a late lunch at Birdswood Cafe, and then went out to Elephant Hill, right on the coast. It’s hard to believe grapes can be grown right in front of the sea, but they can! We also drove the rest of the road towards Cape Kidnappers until we could go no further. Tide was in so we couldn’t wander along the beach. We did take a tiki-tour to Ocean Beach, however, and we took some windswept photos on this deserted beach (it would be pumping in summer and holiday time, I’m sure!)
Day two and we had booked an official tour of four wineries, so that all of us could taste; no sober driver required in our group. It was a great tour that took in the beautiful setting of Mission Estate, Esk Valley, Church Road and Linden Estate wineries. Our tour guide was able to take us into the wine making areas of Esk Valley, too which was a bonus. The tour finished with a wee cheeseboard and wine, with a view overlooking Linden Estate, and we each got a gift of a Mission Estate wine glass – one of those decent sized glasses for drinking a wine 🙂
Day three saw us do the walking tour around Napier, we did this ourselves, rather than pay a driver. It was getting very warm so I ended up going into a shop and buying shorts to wear. We also popped into Mr D’s – a fabulous eatery (with a full italian drinks listing), where we had “morning tea” as it was recommended for the donuts. Oh my! I’d consider going back to check out the full menu, but as we were on limited time, we went to new places each time we ate out, so I’ll have to go back… next visit!
We went to Ahuriri heritage area and had lunch at the Gintrap on the waterfront. Fabulous food, yet again! In the late afternoon we then ventured down to the Estuary to do a walk – the sun was setting and it was a lovely way to end the day.
Day four and it was time for more food – we headed to Hastings and to the Telegraph Hill Olivery, where we tasted olive products. Then on to Rush Munro’s for ice cream. Then we went and took a couple of wineries in – Te Awa and Unison. We had a platter at Unwined Cafe (great play on words) at the Unison winery and then headed home via Silky Oak chocolates.
The next day we were homeward bound, with a change in the weather accompanying us. We stopped for lunch in Masterton, and we also went to Shoc chocolates and popped into Tui HQ as we returned to Wellington, and took a quick side trip to Rivendell! It had been a great few days of seeing the sights and tasting fabulous wine and food.
I’m now home, with a day to unpack, wash and contemplate food for the week ahead. We didn’t over indulge (although some lovely desserts were eaten), but I do need to negate the 1.5kilos I put on! My wine consumption will drop, despite managing to bring home 6 bottles of wine (four in my checked in baggage, and two in my carry on luggage!) I’ll attempt to cellar some of the wines, and will be on the lookout at Vino Fino for some of the wines I tried up north.
It’s been a relaxing time, despite fitting lots in. Back to real life now!