Hawke's Bay is a region located on the east of New Zealand‘s North Island. Hawke's Bay’s 14,200 km² is situated on a 100km horse-shoe shaped bay that stretches from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers. Napier and Hastings share the municipal duties, the former is recognized for its Art Deco style architecture.
The Ngati Kahungunu iwi, are New Zealand’s third largest Maori tribe. Their domain reaches from Mahia Peninsula in the north, including all of the Hawke’s bay Region, as far south as Cape Palliser, in the Wellington Region. Maori call this area Heretaunga and have lived in this region for almost 1000 years. Scattered throughout the region are Marae and historic Pa sites. The Otatara Pa is a well restored site, open to visitors, located on Gloucester Street in Napier.
Napier City is a sun drenched seaside town, with an interesting history. On the 3rd February 1931 this town was almost completely flattened by the worst earthquake to hit New Zealand in modern times. The reconstruction was completed in the art deco style that was very popular at that time. Today it is recognised as having some of the best examples of art deco architecture in the world. The city celebrates its unique heritage annually with the Art Deco Weekend held each February.
Nearby Hastings City has some beautiful parks and eye-catching examples of Spanish Mission architecture. The fertile Heretaunga Plains south of Hastings produce many award winning wines. Over 30 vineyards cater for guests and offer wine tasting.
Te Mata Peak is the highest point in the region at 399 meters. Located near Havelock North, the summit offers stunning panoramic views as far north as the Mahia Peninsula and as far south as the ski fields on Mount Ruapehu in the Tongarero National Park south of Lake Taupo. The rugged hills of the interior are mostly used for sheep and beef farming.
This region has some beautiful stretches of sandy beaches, but be aware that there are some strong undertows that can be very dangerous. So if you are not sure, it pays to go swimming between the yellow flags where lifeguards patrol the beaches. Or go on an organised swim with the dolphins tour.
The National Aquarium of New Zealand is located on the marine parade in Napier and is well worth a visit. There are also water theme parks, farmtours and the largest mainland gannet colony in the world at cape kidnappers.
The Hawke’s Bay has no shortage of exciting activities to keep the adrenalin pumping, there is surfing, diving, sailing, kayaking, jet boating and fishing if you don’t mind getting wet. Hot air ballooning is a popular activity here, as is sky diving and scenic flights. The region also has some great golf courses, many walking tracks, caving options and good hunting too.
The Hawke's Bay produces some of the world’s finest wines and every year Harvest Hawke's Bay celebrates this fact by hosting a three day wine and food festival.
The Mission Estate Winery in Greenmeadows, near Napier hosts the annual Mission Concert. This event has in the past boasted big names such as Ray Charles, Shirley Bassey, Kenny Rogers, Eric Claptout, the B52’s as well as classic Kiwi bands. Tickets are limited to 25,000, and the atmosphere is always amazing.
Listed as the second longest place name in the world with the Guiness Book of Records is a 305 metre high hill south of Waipukurau called . Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-sallower who travelled about, played his flute to his loved one”.
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