The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand

Hawke's Bay

  • Slosh your way around the many wineries throughout the region. Everything grows in the Hawke's Bay sunshine and unsurpassed fresh local produce equates to superb food and wine.
  • Keep your eyes open and ears to the ground for local winery events. There is always something going on from live music to open air cinemas and elaborate culinary affairs.
  • Enter the Art Deco time warp of Napier. The prominent local architecture of this seaside town is built on a fascinating history.
  • Potter around Port Ahuriri and listen to the clink of sails. A beach boardwalk takes you to the harbour entrance where you'll find many crafts and antiques.
  • Watch the gannets duck and dive at Cape Kidnappers.

An earthmoving change of style

On 3rd of February 1931 a massive earthquake hit Napier and flattened it. The quake was so violent it raised 40 km2 of submerged land and caused the area to grow considerably. Sadly 258 people died in the destruction and fires that raged in the aftermath. Although devastated, the area picked itself up, dusted itself off and began to rapidly rebuild. As Art Deco was the trend of the time it was Art deco that inspired the new elegant structures. The city is now a national monument and a joy to explore.

To commemorate the incident and celebrate the Art Deco style The Brebner Print Art Deco Weekend is staged every year on the third weekend in February by the Art Deco Trust. The 'not-too-serious' festival is a flurry of fancy dress, jazz, wining, dining, classic cars, twilight toe-tapping and picnics a la Great Gatsby. Ensure you have enough 1930s dress-up to last the whole 4 days as you'll feel wildly out of place in regular clothing. I'm assuming that most overseas tourists to New Zealand would pack several days' worth of 1930s fancy dress just in case..

If you can't make the Art Deco weekend keep an eye out for Bertie. Fresh from the 1930s, this local character is always happy to stop and chat.

A Gaggle of Gannets

Cape Kidnappers fits the long pointy bill when it comes to providing a rocky breeding location for gannets. In this particular spot you can get relatively close to these wonderful seabirds as they have a strange tolerance when it comes to tourists. Sometimes you might even think they were diving for the camera. It is quite something to see the gannets plummet from great heights into the sea and chase their prey underwater. They come to Cape Kidnappers to nest from August to early May.

Vital statistics:

They have no external nostrils which means they don't have to purchase a nose-clip for diving.

They have protective air sacks in their face and chest which acts like bubble wrap as they impact with the sea.

They eat a whole lot of fish, and so 'gannet' has become synonymous with a certain type of voracious eater.

At only 13-16 weeks old the chicks make their first solo flight to Australia where they take 5 years to mature.

Bookmark and Share