I've been fortunate enough to spend three days in Napier on the North Island of New Zealand. During the trip, I managed to see some of the Art Deco architecture for which Napier is famed, sample some of the wines of the Hawkes Bay Region and visit the Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers. This is a brief overview of what I enjoyed most and why.
A heady mix of concentrated Art Deco, wine tours and Gannets made up our three day trip to Napier in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand
1931 saw a devestating earthquake for the Hawkes Bay region - but one which would create, shape and form Hawkes Bay as it exists today. The earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale, destroyed much of Napier and Hastings. The following two years saw Napier and Hastings rebuilt in the Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical styles - but it is the Art Deco for which Napier is most famous. And rightly so. It's a dense display of Art Deco style which has been well kept up over the years. The New Zealand Wine Centre in the Art Deco AMP Building is an excellent example of the Art Deco style. Rebuilt after the earthquake, the grape decorations were somewhat prophetic as the AMP Building now houses an excellent wine shop with knowledgeable staff and regular videos about wines in the Hawkes Bay region.
Hawkes Bay is also well known as a wine producing region - so a wine tour with Bay Tours was in order. Our afternoon tour (70NZD) took in four vineyards in the region - Moana Park, Mission Estate Winery, Unison Vineyard and Matariki Wines. One of the joys of wines tours is visiting vineyards you've never heard of before - often they're some of the best. And Moana Park was no exception - a boutique vineyard I'd not heard of previously which I rate as the finest we visited on the day. The off-dry Gewürztraminer was the finest of the whites. Moana Park also makes New Zealand's only port wine - labelled as "Tawny" due to restrictions on use of the name "Port" outside of Portugal - which was so good I was compelled to order 6 bottles for delivery to Switzerland.
Cape Kidnappers was our final stop in Hawkes Bay. Our knowledgeable guide from Gannet Safaris drove our 4x4 across extensive farmland to the Gannet Colony. The drive through the farm took us along former river bed and sea bed with unfossiled shells, with native ti-tree, birdlife, deep gullies, Perendale sheep and Aberdeen Angus cows. The Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony is the largest of all the mainland gannet colonies as, in general, they prefer to breed in remote, inaccessible islands areas free of predators. The Gannets themselves are unphased by the human presence on the plateau colony - which also affords excellent views over sheer cliff face and Hawkes Bay.
Hawkes Bay - where to (and not to) stay - Recommendations on where to and not to stay in Napier and Havelock North in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Hawkes Bay trip - facts and figures - Facts and figures about our trip to Napier and Hawkes Bay in New Zealand
Napier - a visit to the National Acquarium of New Zealand - A travelogue from a trip to the National Acquarium in Napier, New Zealand
Hawkes Bay - a wine tour - Travelogue from a wine tour in the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand
Havelock North - Sunset over Hawkes Bay - Sunset over Hawkes Bay seen from Havelock North
Cape Kidnappers - the Gannet Colony - Gannets at the Cape Kidnappers colony overlooking Hawkes Bay
Hawkes Bay - 4 great wineries not to miss - Great wineries to visit in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
New Zealand - places not to miss - Recommended places to visit in and around New Zealand
A helicopter ride over Taupo - Notes from our helicopter ride over the Lake Taupo area on the North Island of New Zealand
New Zealand - The Buried Village - Information on and about the Buried Village near Rotorua in New Zealand
Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook