The Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand is located on the East Coast of the North Island and is now known as Hawkes Bay after the vast bay from the Mahia Peninsula in the NE to Cape Kidnappers in the SW which is officially named Hawke Bay and spans some 100kms. It consists of two main city centres, Napier and nearby Hastings as well as many smaller towns and communities.
Largely a rural region it is well known for its thriving viticulture due to the high sunshine hours and alluvial soils on the Eastern coast. With long warm summers and cool winters the temperate climate is ideal for growing grapes. The balance of land usage is agriculture – sheep and cattle – and horticulture – vineyards and orchards with forestry making up the rest. The region has a modest population of ~150k people of which a significant one quarter is Maori.
Napier has both the main airport and the only seaport for the region so is considered to be the centre of Hawkes Bay. After a devastating 7.9 richter earthquake on February 3, 1931, most of Napier (and nearby Hastings) was levelled killing 256 people in New Zealand’s worst natural disaster to date.
The town was later rebuilt in the popular Art Deco style of the time and is now known as culturally significant as an example of Art Deco around the world. Every year in February Napier celebrates all things Art Deco during a weeklong festival and there are ever popular walking tours of the town departing daily for the Art Deco enthusiasts.
There are myriad wineries open to the public and anyone with a penchant for the wine could while away many hours visiting cellar doors and restaurants in the region. There are many options for touring these from self-guided bicycle tours to fully guided half or whole day tours which can also include lunch.
Napier is an ideal place for hot air ballooning because of its stable weather conditions and further south there is a vast gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers which is a worthy visit for any bird lovers. Also at the Cape is the famous Cape Kidnappers golf course located on cliffs towering 140m above the mighty Pacific Ocean .