Tip: Kiwis, adrenaline addicts and dedicated hikers, will suggest you hike (beware of the "It's just a little uphill" or "an easy bit of a walk;" it won't be), fish, kayak, camp, climb or bike. They are a hardy, hospitable bunch and want you to enjoy their country the way they do.
These are stops more our style, Levelers.
If you've ever dreamed of wandering in a magical woodland garden, this will fill the bill.
Rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias tower over you in a riot of color. Bluebells, daffodils, rare Himalayan lilies and forget-me-nots carry the palette to the ground and in between, roses bloom effusively.
Tip: The gardens are easy walking with minor elevation changes. The stairs are broad with bannisters and a landing; about as easy as you can get to a second level.
If you're into history there's a Heritage Trail that starts with Gwavas Garden and goes through the Ongaonga area of central Hawkes Bay.
Napier (Ahuriri in Maori)
|Classic Car Art Deco Tour|
|Entrance, National Tobacco Company.|
You can easily spend an hour or more browsing through the Art Deco Trust building. I wish I'd made time to stop in at Opossum World and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
See a rugby game at McLean Park and cheer on the local Hawkes Bay Magpies with a hearty "C'mon the Bay!"
This city, slightly larger than Napier, was also devastated by the 1930 earthquake. Its architecture is more Spanish Mission than Art Deco. In addition to the delightful Sunday Farmers' Market (see previous post), hit the horses with the New Zealand Horse of the Year show in March or the races at Hastings Racecourse.
|The Maori hongi.|
|No shortage of sheep anywhere in New Zealand.|
Wool World at Clifton Station, Te Awanga, is another spot I missed but by all reports it's a fascinating exposure to a historic, 2,000-acre sheep station.
Go to the birds with Gannet Safaris. Even if you don't give a flip about the winged ones, it's quite an experience and the views of Cape Kidnappers are spectacular (see 12/30/2011 post on this site).
|View from the gannet colony.|
Where to stay
Hawkes Bay Tourism
I visited Hawkes Bay with a small group of Society of American Travel Writers members and Hawkes Bay Tourism selected where we would stay.
However, I was pleased with them all. You will find most rooms, sometimes even in fine hotels, come with efficiency kitchens. Kiwis are big do-it-yourselfers and love to travel so they often cut corners where they can. It comes in handy for us Yanks too.
In Napier, I can recommend The Crown Hotel Napier overlooking the waterfront in Ahuriri. The room was large, handsomely furnished and scrupulously clean. I also stayed at Quest Apartments in downtown, which I can also recommend; four-star rooms in a historic 1919 Spanish Mission style building.
|View from The Dome.|
|The Farm at Cape kidnappers.|
Tip: Levelers, to avoid stairs, ask for accommodations close to the lodge.
I don't know if I've convinced you to go to Hawkes Bay but I've convinced myself to return.