It was an easy and pleasant drive down to Hawke’s Bay, and we arrived in the town of Napier a around two hours after leaving Taupo. Obviously, the first thing that we needed to do was to get coffee, and Kristy had thankfully already done the research on where to go – Groove Kitchen Espresso. I’m not sure precisely where she got the recommendation, but it was bang on the money – this was easily a competitor for the best coffee that we had on the entire trip! But more on that later.
Napier was mostly destroyed by an earthquake back in 1931, and afterwards, the towns’ folk decided to rebuild it entirely in Art Deco style – as was the fashion at the time. We picked up a “Children’s Art Deco Explorer” pack from the Art Deco Trust, which took us on a short (about 1hr) self-guided tour around the town. Along the way, there were activities to do, and some (pretty simple) clues to decipher, all which were supposed to help teach you more about the Art Deco styling and different buildings on the route. It was a great idea, and quite enjoyable – though I’ll admit that the learning aspect can’t have been too well executed because shortly after the fact, I had completely forgotten everything I had learned.
Our search for accommodation in Napier proper had come up short, so instead we chose an AirBnB on the outskirts of Hastings – the next town over and about 20 minutes’ drive away. I don’t mean to harp on here, but once again, AirBnB really delivered for us! The house was an “Eco House”, tucked away behind a small farm, and by the furnishings that were there, it was clear that the owners were regular occupants. (As it turns out, the owners used to live there, but have since emmigrated to Australia.)
One unique feature was the bathtub in the master bedroom. As in, it was literally in the master bedroom, just sitting there at the end of the bed. But no complaints – the lack of curtains on the huge glass doors provided a beauitful view of the starry night sky (both from the bathtub and the bed!).
Oscar and Leo were also happy to have another place that included a hammock!
Hawke’s Bay is home to a huge number of wineries, and correspondingly, there’s a huge number of winery tours that you can participate in. We decided to give the On Yer Bike tour a shot, which – as the name suggests – sees you jumping onto some pushies to cycle between the vineyards. They even accommodated for kids, with a little bike trailer that was big enough for both the boys to sit in!
Unfortunately, this was one of those things that sounded much better on paper than it worked out in practice. We both struggled a bit for the first couple of kilometres simply due to the gravel roads – they’re slippery to turn on and it’s easy to lose your balance. What’s more, towing the boys behind me on a bike that was – shall we say, not in its peak condition – felt like I was riding with my brakes on. It also didn’t help that the bike was way too small for my ample stature, so I was cycling like a hunchback the whole time. And, we were once again both blessed and cursed by the weather – blessed because it was a beautiful clear day, but cursed because it was crazy hot!
However, complaints notwithstanding, it was actually a nice way to see the countryside. The wineries each had their own charm – we most enjoyed the wine from Selini Estates, and the cheese platter from Abbey Cellars. The blue cheese was especially good!
Our final morning in Hawke’s Bay saw us departing as early as we could (which turns out to be around 10 AM), as we had our final (and longest!) drive ahead of us, down to Wellington.