Over the summer holidays, I spent a week in Hawke’s Bay, a region in the North Island of New Zealand, which is home to fresh, delicious produce and beautiful wines. In fact, Hawke’s Bay is the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the second largest (after Marlborough). There is lots to do in Hawke’s Bay, from dining at the many restaurants and cafes, sampling local wines, climbing mountains, exploring beaches, or picking up your produce for the week at the amazing farmer’s market.
Check out my highlights for my favourite things to see, eat and do in Hawke’s Bay…
#1 Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market
Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market is one of my favourite markets to date for its abundant range of produce, and the fact that everyone is catered for.
Highlights included: FIGS from Te Mata Figs, plus fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, nutty and wholesome gluten free breads, organic blueberries and ice cream from Bay Blueberries, gluten and dairy free treats and products from HAPI, mouthwatering macarons from Monsieur Macaron, hot chilies like jalapeños and Padron peppers, honeycomb honey sourced from Cape Kidnappers and SO much more!
The market is on every Sunday from 8.30am till 12.30pm.
#2 Church Road Winery
To me, summer days = platters, wine(s) and picnics. And the perfect place for these summer days? Church Road Winery of course!
Having been fans of Church Road Winery for a long time, we decided to have lunch here. You have the option to sit inside or outside or relax on a picnic blanket on the grass, which is what we chose to do. For lunch, we ordered wines – highly recommend their 2017 Rose, which was perfect with our platter to share. We loved all the different dishes on the platter – Maharaja chutney, marinated olives, pickled vegetables, cured meats, basil pesto, cherry vine tomato salsa, smoked salmon dip, arancini balls, citrus prawns, Hohepa Danbo cheese and Whitestone Brie, served with crackers, croutes and house made bread.
Although we shared this between the two of us, you could definitely share it between three people. The house made bread was still warm out of the oven and the Maharaja chutney was divine, so much so, we bought a few jars from the gift shop afterwards.
While we didn’t do either, wine tastings and museum tours are also available at Church Road Winery.
#3 Mission Estate Winery
Just down the road from Church Road Winery is Mission Estate Winery. As mentioned above, Hawke’s Bay is home to New Zealand’s oldest winery – in 1851, French missionaries sailed to New Zealand and planted vines – introducing Mission Estate, located in Napier.
Since trying Mission Estate’s wines last year, I have fallen in love. My favourite wine at the moment? Mission Estate’s 2017 Pinot Gris. It is a beautiful drop and I highly recommend trying it.
While we didn’t dine at Mission Estate’s restaurant (having already had lunch at Church Road Winery) or do a wine tasting, we did have a lovely walk around the grounds and various dining areas, plus I purchased some of their beautiful branded glasses – at only $5 each, they were an absolute steal!
Hapī is WOW. Their ethos “you are what you eat” and that “physical and mental wellbeing is a true reflection of how you fuel your body” rings true to my New Year’s Resolution for this year, so I was really excited to check out this cute cafe, located in the heart of Napier.
At Hapī, the food is plant based, full of nutrients and very delicious. If you are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free or just love eating all of the above, then Hapī is your place! Read more about Hapī here.
#5 Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak stands at 399m high and provides spectacular views over Napier, Hastings and the Hawke’s Bay Hills. You can walk up it, down and around (there are six different walking tracks to choose from), you can cycle, or and if you are into mountain biking, then there are a few tracks for you too!
We arrived around 9am to walk up the peak – any later and it would have been too hot. There is parking at the main entrance and a large map, which clearly outlines all the different routes.
Te Mata Peak is a great way to get into nature and do something different, because, really, it is hard to stay away from all the amazing eateries and wineries in Hawke’s Bay!
Te Mata Peak Road, Hastings / Website
#6 Hawthorne Coffee
I first tried Hawthorne Coffee at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, and while the wait was super long, it was worth it. Their coffee is creamy, delicious and smells out of this world. I also picked up two bags of their coffee to take home, which is priced at $10 a packet – usually $13-$13.50 online!
A few days later, we stopped by their cafe after exploring Te Mata Peak. The coffee, again, was perfect. Now, back in Auckland, I’m enjoying their plunger coffee at home, which smells and tastes heavenly.
#6 The Fruit Shop
Looking for $3 pumpkins? Or how about bags of fresh apricots for $6? Or maybe Feijoa fruit ice cream? Then, you have come to the right place – introducing The Fruit Shop.
Their Instagram bio claims it is “Hawke’s Bay’s best fruit destination”… and I think they are right on track! While I loved the fresh fruit and vegetables at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, the fruit and vegetables at The Fruit Shop are more reasonably priced. Plus, real fruit ice cream – and not just the usual strawberry and blueberry, but FEIJOA. Ultimate bonus!!!
We literally filled our car with sooooo many goodies from The Fruit Shop and took these all the way back to Auckland. I would highly recommend a stop here!
#7 Kilim Turkish Cafe & Restaurant
I love Turkish food. Especially homemade falafel, hummus, Iskender Chicken and Lamb, tabbouleh and Turkish bread. Kilim is a family owned restaurant in Napier, and does Turkish food well – very authentic and tasty. And yes, their falafel is primo!
We dined here once (and also got takeaway on a separate occasion) and it was a lovely night. The staff were welcoming and friendly and our meals arrived promptly. They do BYO = double bonus, plus NO CORKAGE = triple bonus!!!
We loved their Iskender Meal with Chicken, which also comes with a generous amount of rice, hummus, beetroot dip, mixed salad, tabbouleh and Turkish bread, and also the Salad Bowl with Falafels with salad, hummus, beetroot dip, tabbouleh, sweet chilli and Turkish bread. Both meals were filling and delicious. Recommend.
193 Hastings Street, Napier / Facebook
#8 Chantal Shop
Note: This is not my kid, but isn’t this cute?
Bulk Food Heaven is how I would describe Chantal Shop. Rows and rows of bins filled with all your favourite nuts, grains, seeds and flours. I picked up some raw cashews (as I was making this) and they were delicious!
If you are looking for all things organic, raw, vegan, dairy and gluten free, then you have come to the right place. They sell a huge range of fresh foods, products (including some of my favourites – Serious Popcorn, Tio Pablo corn chips and Little Bird Unbakery macaroons) and many cold drinks (perfect for a hot summer’s day or taking on a picnic), plus if you are feeling like a wholesome breakfast or lunch, check out their cafe serving wholesome food next door.
#9 Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers is a headland located on the east coast of the North Island and is the site of the largest and most accessible gannet colony in the world.
The gannet colony is closed to the public (as the land surrounding the Cape is all privately owned), however there are a few ways to get there. You can either get up super super early and walk across the beach to the colony (about a 5 hour trip return), however you have to walk it in a certain time frame as they tide has to be out when you do the walk. You can also do tours – either via tractor or in a 4WD vehicle.
Because we had not booked a tour or risen early, we decided to explore the area and check out the beach. The Te Awanga Motor Camp is also near where you start the 5 hour return walk, which is worth a look around. We spoke to some locals – they have been coming to the motor camp every year for about 30 years and I can definitely see why. It is very peaceful, quiet and a great spot for fishing, swimming or relaxing with a good book.
If you don’t fancy doing any of the above, then you can view the full length of the iconic cliffs of Cape Kidnappers from Marine Parade in Napier!
Clifton Road, Te Awanga / Info
#10 Birdwoods Sweet Shop
Birdwoods Sweet Shop is one part of Birdwoods Gallery and Cafe, located in Havelock North.
We looked around the gallery, real fruit ice cream shop and cafe, however, they only have plunger coffee available, so we had coffee elsewhere. We did enjoy checking out their old fashioned sweet shop. I felt like a child all over again!
Memories flooded back of afternoons spent running down to the dairy to buy tons of lollies and the bubble gum with the stick-on tattoos inside.
Birdwoods Sweet Shop has a wide range of confectionery – rows and rows of jars filled with sweets, like gobstoppers, giant marshmallows of all different shapes and flavours, jubes, jet planes, milk bottles, bon bons, Jaffa’s, plus gummy pizza and hamburgers, spaceman sticks, giant chocolate fish and bubble gum.
While I wanted to buy one of everything, I chose a delicious dark chocolate marshmallow filled slice (above) and some lollies to take back home.
298 Middle Road, Havelock North / Website
#11 Hunger Monger
Last but not least, Hunger Monger. Run by Polish couple, Fraser Slack and Agnieszka Wills, the menu is predominantly seafood, where diners can enjoy oysters, Aussie prawns, grilled fish, Cook Strait octopus, squid, sashimi and salmon to name a few. Also, 98% of their wines and beers are local to the area – many I had never heard of before.
We enjoyed their Tempura Prawns with dipping sauces, Grilled Fish with Salads, Grilled Fish with Kumara Miso Mash and Broccolini and for dessert, Deconstructed Tiramisu. The food was beautiful, and the service excellent too. Read more about Hunger Monger here.
A fantastic first visit to Hawke’s Bay – cannot wait to go back!
Want to know more awesome Things to Do in the North Island? Check out this article here.