The Hawke’s Bay region is situated on the east coast of the North Island and is renowned for its orchards and vineyards. (Confusingly, it contains Hawke Bay, a large semicircular bay that extends for 60 miles from the Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers.) Long, hot summers and cool winters provide ideal weather for growing grapes. The first vines were planted by 19th-century missionaries. Today, there are nearly 100 wineries, and Hawke’s Bay is renowned for its full-bodied reds. Harvest Hawke’s Bay is an annual three-day wine and food festival that takes place in January.
Cape Kidnappers golf course in Hawke’s Bay, a picturesque two-and-a-half-hour drive southeast from Taupo, debuted in 2004 and was designed by architect Tom Doak. His par-71 course is Cypress Point-spectacular. Water is never out of view, and several holes run atop fingers of land that fall off sharply. The track plays firm and fast, like a traditional links. The back-to-back par 5s at Nos. 15 and 16 are revelations.
Hawke's Bay Wine Trail
More than 90 wineries operate in Hawke’s Bay, and many can be visited by following a clearly delineated route called the Hawke’s Bay Wine Trail. Places that offer tastings on the premises are referred to as “cellar door” businesses. Here are some vineyards that I would particularly recommend.
Backed by the dramatic Te Mata Peak, Craggy Range offers appealing Chardonnays; I have also long admired its Gimblett Gravels reds, in which Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc form harmonious blends. Mission Estate Winery enjoys a prime location overlooking Napier. Its wines regularly receive top awards, with the Jewelstone line doing reliably well. Te Mata Estate is one of the top wineries in the country. The Bordeaux-style red blend, Coleraine, is a quintessential expression of the Hawke’s Bay style.
Wineries and Fly-Fishing
We spent a very informative morning exploring the region’s wineries with the delightful Grant Petherick. He shares his passion for these wines without pretension and with consistent good humor. (He also takes people fly-fishing in the area.)