The Hawkes Bay, Napier and Cape Kidnappers
The Hawkes Bay is the sunniest region in the North Island. That combined with fertile river soils and sheltered seas made it well known among Maori as a place of plenty, and it became equally popular for European growers. It is now one of New Zealand's gourmet foodie destinations. Wineries, orchards and food production dominate its river plains, making tours easy, whether by car or bike. You will be spoilt for choice as to which winery or winery restaurant to visit. There are also a collection of excellent artisans (jewellers, furniture makers, painters) who open their studios to visitors. We highly recommend visiting David Trubridge studio near Hastings for a glimpse of modern New Zealand furniture design, and try to get to Elephant Hill vineyard for a relaxing evening appetisers and wine tasting.
Other highly recommended day trips include a visit with Waimarama Maori or their 2 hour excursion up Te Mata Peak to learn about local Maori history. If you are a keen golfer you will want to play a game at Cape Kidnappers world renowned golf course. And bird lovers will enjoy the vast Cape Kidnappers gannet colony. Napier itself is an art deco heritage town on the sea. There are twice daily heritage walking tours run from the local isite Visitor Centre. The newer portside area of Ahuriri is busy with cafes and a good spot for lunch (other than the wineries).
Waihi (Coromandel)-Napier: 4 hours
Taupo-Napier: 2 hours
Napier-Wellington: 4 hours
Auckland-Rotorua: 2 hours 45 mins