Hawke’s Bay

The Hawke’s Bay region in New Zealand is known for several different things. Among these things are its world-renowned wine industry and the wonderful Art Deco architecture that is on display in its main cities. In relation to wine, red varietals such as syrah, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon tend to get the most attention, while on the architectural side of things, the famed Art Deco buildings of Hawke’s Bay can more specifically be found in the city of Napier.

Hawke’s Bay calls the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island home and is one of the warmest and driest regions in the country. Things cool down in the winter, as you might suspect, and when you couple this with the hot summers, the general climate makes for good grape growing. Many of the wineries in Hawke’s Bay have taken advantage of the climate to produce award-winning wines. If you’re curious about New Zealand wine tours, it’s often possible to include these in your trip—some of the wineries around Hawke’s Bay even offer rooms for those who wish to stay overnight. This can be an especially good lodging choice for those who are enjoying romantic New Zealand vacations.

The Hawke’s Bay region was founded as a province in 1858 and is characterized by rolling hills, fertile plains, and scenic coastal terrain. It takes its name from a large bay that stretches from the Mahia Peninsula down to Cape Kidnappers. This bay, or Hawke Bay, as it is also known, was actually named by the famous English explorer, Captain James Cook. The year of Cook’s visit to the bay was 1769, and he named it to honor Sir Edward Hawke, First Lord of the Admiralty. Also worth highlighting in relation to Hawke Bay are the Australasian Gannet colonies that call Cape Kidnappers home. Many tourists come to see these large and somewhat rare seabirds, with the coastal beach reserve motor camp of Clifton serving as a popular travelers base. Cape Kidnappers, coincidentally, is also where you will find the immaculate Cape Kidnappers Golf Course should you wish to add some unforgettable golf to your Hawke’s Bay escape.

Napier, or the Art Deco Capital of the World, as it is often called, is one of the two main cities in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand, the other being the city of Hastings. Napier is found on the coast and is widely considered to be the regional center, due in part to its role as a port and that fact that it is home to the region’s main airport.

Hastings lies inland and is the largest urban area in the region. The fertile plains that surround Hastings are renowned for their fruit and vegetable production and form the base of the red wine industry of New Zealand. While Napier gets more attention on the whole for its Art Deco architecture, Hastings shouldn’t be overlooked by architectural enthusiasts. Both cities feature their fair share of Art Deco buildings, not to mention buildings that exhibit the Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical styles of architecture.

The architectural styles that are on display in the Hawke’s Bay region include those that were especially popular in the 1930's. The reason? On February 3, 1931, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake destroyed much of both Hastings and Napier. New buildings had to be built, and thankfully, many of these now-vintage buildings are still around today. Those who are interested in learning more about the history of the 1931 earthquake are encouraged to visit the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery, at 9 Herschell Street in Napier.

There are so many fun things to do in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand that it can be hard to know where to start when trying to plan your vacation. You can watch the Hawke’s Bay Magpies rugby team play a home match, for example, or attend the annual Mission Concert, which is held each February at the Mission Estate Winery in Taradale. Another big event, or events, are the Maori New Year celebrations of Matariki, which is a great choice if you want to learn more about the history and native culture of New Zealand. Other ways to keep busy in Hawke’s Bay, include shopping at a farmers market, hiking along forest trails, spending time at one of the beaches that line the coast, and mountain biking.

The area has plenty of options for accommodations as well, and there are Hawke’s Bay lodging choices to suit any type of traveler. In addition to staying at one of the local wineries, visitors to the region can check out the local selection of hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts, and they can also go camping or book a room at a private home that rents out space to guests.

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