Easter in the Hawkes Bay

Hope you had a great Easter weekend – whether relaxing at home or taking a trip away.

I’d assumed that everywhere in NZ had a sunny Easter weekend, until I got back to work in Wellington this morning and heard it’d been a wash out. Hawkes Bay is one of the sunniest areas of the country, making it perfect for wine-growing, and we enjoyed two days of glorious sunshine.

We stayed in Napier, which was a 4.5 hour drive from the capital. There are two routes and we opted for driving through the Rimutaka hills and the Wairarapa on our way there and coming back via the Kapiti coast road.  On the way up we stopped off in Greytown; a shabby-chic little town, great for coffee and gift-shop browsing. We’re hoping to visit again for a weekend soon.

We scrimped on accommodation so we could splurge on meals and activities and stayed in a scruffy backpackers. It was in a good location near the old port and redeveloped quay area, but it looked like there were plenty of nicer places to stay in Napier.

We began Easter Sunday by touring Napier in style on a motortrike. I’d booked this based on it’s brilliant TripAdvisor reviews and it’s easy to see why it’s popular. Our driver, Vic from London, was a great host who obviously loved his job. He took us cruising around the town up to a lookout and down a straight stretch at 100km/ph. I’m not sure I’d fancy getting on the back of a motorbike but I felt safe in the comfort of the trike’s leather seats. I was also in my element waving to everyone, modelling a plastic tiara, as we zoomed past.

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*Bit of history*
Napier was devastated by an earthquake in 1931; it was mid-Depression and at first it was uncertain as to whether the city could recover. Thankfully it was rebuilt in the art-deco style of the time. It has since flourished and is a great example of the community all pulling together to create a unique tourism pull. Apparently the annual art-deco weekend in February is a huge event.

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In the afternoon we went on a wine tour with ‘Grape Escape’. You could tour the wineries yourself and I like cycling around them, but we decided to try an organised tour this time. It was good to have the planning taken out of it and spend the afternoon with an expert.

Rob and I were on a tour with a Dutch girl and a group of East-Asian friends, who had come down from Auckland. Most of them didn’t drink wine and weren’t very interested – not sure why they booked a wine tour! During the afternoon we tried a wide variety of wines made in the area, tested the difference between Hawkes Bay and Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs and I learnt that Chardonnays shouldn’t all be automatically dismissed. The vineyards we visited had all diversified their products, also offering olive oils, chocolates, bike hire, artwork and a wine slushy mixture!

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Appropriately, we had our Easter dinner in a church: The Old Church, just outside Napier. It was a gorgeous conversion that regularly hosts weddings. We had beautiful duck and lamb roasts, a bottle of their Chardonnay and shared a creatively presented chocolate mousse.

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On Easter Monday with fuzzy heads, we climbed Te Mata peak. There are 5 tracks that you can follow and we took a challenging, 2hr 15 mins trail. We had to climb over fallen trees, jump over mud and trek up the side of the peak in the midday heat. You can also drive to the summit if you’re feeling lazy!

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