15 Nov Destination Guide: Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay is wine country. Internationally award-winning, sommelier-celebrated wine country. And while tasting your way around the world class vineyards here makes for an amazing holiday, there’s much more to this postcard-pretty region than the wine…
Situated on the East Coast of the North Island, Hawkes Bay has a climate very similar to Bordeaux. The warm, dry temperatures are the perfect conditions for producing some of the world’s very best red wines – most notably, Merlot Cabernet blends and Syrah.
The region has also made a name for itself for rich, intensely fruit-laden Chardonnays, and has in recent years has begun to produce some impressive Pinot Noir.
There are some 72 wineries in the Hawke’s Bay, including boutique and organic producers. Ask us to arrange a luxury wine trail for you, visiting the cellar doors of the best wineries, tasting the beautiful complexity of various wines including special limited-releases, picnicking under the terraced vines, and even spending time with the wine makers themselves.
Explore Hawke’s Bay wine country in style in a luxury vintage car, or join one of the region’s popular cycle tours. The terrain is flat, making for very easy cycling. (Any wine you purchase can be delivered to your accommodation, in time for your return at the end of your sensational day out in the sun.)
Whatever way you choose to travel, you’ll get to enjoy not just the wine and wineries, but some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes. And that’s saying something! The countryside here feels like a painting come to life – picturesque vineyards, olive groves and orchards are dotted alongside huge rolling hills, sweeping rivers and sparkling coastline.
Speaking of paintings, one particularly dramatic feature of the Hawke’s Bay landscape has played muse for countless artists over the years. Hike or drive to the summit of Te Mata Peak to take in the spectacular 360-degree views over the region.
The high sunshine hours here grow a bounty of more than just grapes. Thanks to the abundance of fresh produce available here, Hawke’s Bay has attracted and inspired a thriving culinary culture.
Hawke’s Bay is home to some fabulous artisan food producers. To taste their creations, stroll around one of the lively, open-air Farmers’ Markets the region regularly hosts, or visit the farm gates and organic orchards themselves. Hawke’s Bay produces particularly impressive cheeses, olives and olive oil, grass-fed lamb, and stone fruit (the most delicious, juicy cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines…) If you’re a real foodie, let us arrange a boutique food tour for you, meeting the makers, and enjoying chef-prepared meals using the freshest local produce.
There are some absolutely world-class restaurants and eateries to be discovered in the Hawke’s Bay, too. In fact, you could holiday here for weeks, and still not have enough time to dine at all of the best places. And as the region’s gastronomic reputation spreads, even more sensational bars, cafes and restaurants are popping up – from cosmopolitan cocktail joints to amazing patisseries. The past year has been a very exciting time for this region.
Fresh bakes and cakes at The Picnic, where traditional french technique meets modern-day tastes Just one of the vibrant eateries to be found in Napier, Monica Loves serves artisan cocktails, craft beer and a brilliantly curated wine list alongside contemporary bites and shared plates.
As you’d expect, some of the best culinary experiences are to be found at the wineries themselves, with menus artfully designed to make each wine sing on your palette. We can’t pick favourites – there are just too many – but here’s just a sampler to whet your appetite..
At Craggy Range winery’s Terroir Restaurant you’ll enjoy the freshest seasonal produce sourced from the winery’s own gardens, served in a classic French-country style, all matched to Craggy Range’s premium portfolio of reds and whites. You’ll also dine with the most majestic view imaginable, as the vineyard is nestled under the magnificent Te Mata Peak.
Mission Estate Winery Restaurant
Mission Estate Winery (established in 1851 by French Missionaries and considered by many to be the birthplace of New Zealand wine) is home to one of Hawke’s Bay’s most iconic restaurants. Enjoy contemporary fine dining in the grand and historic seminary building, or al fresco in the beautifully manicured grounds.
From historic and stately to modern and innovative – Elephant Hill is one of Hawke’s Bay’s ‘youngest’ (inaugural vintage was 2006) and most exciting wineries. The vineyard and its namesake restaurant are set on the with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the dramatic Cape Kidnapper cliffs. Elephant Hill selects only the freshest produce from local growers who share their passion for excellence in food.