Hawke’s Bay, Napier and Wine Tasting

6 02 2013

IMG_0058As you know I live in Portland, Oregon – where it’s dark and rainy in December! So I was super excited to take a holiday in summery New Zealand! But I brought the rain with me. It was raining when I got to Palmerston North, and it was fickle – rain/sun/rain the first couple of days. The thing about New Zealand is that if you drive east, over the mountains, it’s often dry and warm from places west. So Paul made plans to take us to Hastings and Hawke’s Bay – his dad and sister live over there. Plus, we’d pay a visit to some of the wineries the area is known for. Sounded good to me!

This was going to be a great day. Paul, Liz, myself and Anthia loaded up and took off east – we’d breakfast on the way. One Kiwi dish that ought to be sampled by visitors are the savory pies. So, Paul had a favorite pie bakery where we’d stop and eat a mid morning breakfast.

Paul and Liz

Paul and Liz


They had all sorts of pies – chicken, turkey, pork, beef, but I chose the seafood. It was delicious! And we had some “doughnut” sweet type pastries, too.

I had to get some cappuccino to go with this. Having a “meat pie” for breakfast was new to me, but these were quite nice.

The irony here is that these pies were made by Cambodians! I think the bakery was named Angkor Wat Kiwi Bakery.

Once we arrived on the east side of the mountains, the sky cleared and it warmed up substantially-with no humidity! Over in the jewel-like suburb of Havelock North, the town was very neat and clean – houses with crisply tended yards, flowers everywhere, purple flowered jacaranda trees – and a blue sea beyond. Hard to resist an intoxicated feeling just being there.


A jacaranda tree – just like in Buenos Aires!

We picked up Paul’s dad in Havelock North and headed up into the coastal hills – to a Te Mata Peak – a place with a panoramic view of the whole Hawke’s Bay area!


View from Te Mata Peak


After a brief lunch visit at Paul’s sister’s house, we drove through Napier, a coastal town known for its Art-Deco architecture, to the Mission Estate Winery.

Napier is definitely sun-splashed. It’s got a mile-wide beach – but it’s not good for swimming as there are dangerous currents. You can swim further north.

Napier was flattened in 1931 by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. The town was subsequently rebuilt in the then-trendy art deco style and visitors come to see the architecture. It’s a major export port for wool, fruit and wines the area is famous for.

We pass through on our way, stopping at the marina area to the north.


There is someone launching a Feelfree Move sit on top kayak with a fishing set up, and there are Laser Class sailboats getting ready to race. I take a step into the waters and it would have been a decent swim…but we move on.

We check out the Mission Estate Winery – the oldest in New Zealand.

It reminds me of something out of Gone with the Wind, except that we’re in New Zealand. Grand style, grand semi circle entrance, big halls, and beautiful palm-studded grounds with tables set out.IMG_0064

IMG_0067People sitting at the tables enjoying fine food and drink. After some tasting, Paul bought a bottle of Chardonnay, and I a Merlot-Syrah. New Year’s is coming…




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