Napier and Greater Hawkes Bay

We spent three days in Napier area, visiting various towns and spots, and enjoying several activities, including a few Grab One things.  We found some fun things to do and some wonderful places to enjoy the views.

Andrew J. Wharton tasting wines at Hawkes Ridge Winery

Hawke's Ridge Winery (click to enlarge)

Our first stop was Hawke’s Ridge Winery in Hastings, where we sampled some wines before choosing one glass each to enjoy along with some toasted bread and olive oil.  I don’t like wines much at all, but I did enjoy Hawke’s Ridge’s sweet 2011 Late Harvest Viognier, which is basically a dessert wine.  Dessert wines are sweet enough that I can sometimes overlook the taste of alcohol.  Andrew had a glass of their regular harvest Viognier.  We also got to take home a new bottle of their olive oil as part of the Grab One voucher.

Room at Mon Logis Bed and Breakfast

Our room at Mon Logis

Next, we drove back to Napier and checked into Mon Logis (French, pronounced mow low-SHEE) Bed and Breakfast, one of Napier’s historic buildings to survive the 1931 earthquake, for two nights for the price of one night with another Grab One Voucher.  The owner, Gerard, is from France and purchased the Mon Logis about ten years ago from another Frenchie also named Gerard.

Breakfast at Mon Logis B&B

Breakfast (click to enlarge)

Mon Logis B&B is right across the street from the beach, with lovely views of the ocean, Hawkes Bay, and the cliffs which make up the southern end of Hawkes Bay.  Gerard’s hospitality is excellent, and the rooms and bed are very comfortable.  There is free wifi (though a bit slow at times upstairs), and a wonderful breakfast each morning of muesli, yogurt, fresh cut fruit, and the lightest, most delicious croissants I’ve ever tasted, along with jams and honey, for the first course, and then made-to-order ham-and-cheese omelettes as the second course.  And tea, of course.

Taradale's Billy Burke's Irish Bar and Restaurant

Billy Burke's (click to enlarge)

After checking in and having a short rest, we drove to the nearby town of Taradale for dinner at Billy Burke’s Irish Bar & Restaurant, using yet another Grab One voucher.  The food there is quite yummy.  We had a meat and olive pizza and some cheese and ham fries. The pizza was good, and the cheese and ham was yummy, though there could have been a bit more of these on the fries.  We also each had a drink, and the total was $15 for the voucher plus an extra $5, though that extra $5 might have been too much since Andrew’s original order of a cider was changed to a beer when they found out they’d run out of cider. The atmosphere in Billy Burke’s was nice and friendly, and there was live music playing downstairs as we ate our meal and relaxed upstairs by ourselves.

View from Bluff Hill, Napier, New Zealand

Napier Harbour from Bluff Hill

After dinner, we drove to the top of Bluff Hill for the view but discovered that they close the gate at 9:00 pm.  The security guy who was closing the gate let us have five or ten minutes to look around quickly.  It was dark, and about all that could be seen were the docks immediately below the bluff and the lights of the towns.  There had been a cruise ship in harbour earlier that day, which would probably have been quite a sight from above.

Faraday Centre, Napier, New Zealand

Part of Faraday Centre (click to enlarge)

Faraday Centre's Electrical Control Panel

Andrew running the intersection lights

Railroad car at Napier's Faraday Centre

Railroad at Faraday Centre

We began our second day at the Faraday Centre, a wonderful place of fantastic historic inventions and devices.  The full price (no Grab One for this) of $9.00 each was quite fair, and we fully enjoyed the two hours we spent wandering and exploring and trying the various displays.  The guy in charge showed us around personally, probably because we were the only ones in the place at first.  He told us great stories about all kinds of things and showed us how many of the exhibits worked.  We actually ran out of time, having seen only about 2/3 or 3/4 of the exhibits during our two hours there.  We very highly recommend visiting Faraday Centre if you’re in or near Napier.  It was my favourite place of our trip.

Entrance to Napier Prison

Napier Prison's entrance

Napier Prison uses audio guide (recordings)

Andrew listening to audio guide at Napier Prison

Napier Prison inmate photo opp

Pretending to be a prisoner (scary, huh?)

Next, we drove to the base of Bluff Hill to the historic Napier Prison, New Zealand’s oldest prison, where we received half-price entry of $10 each through our fourth (and final) Grab One voucher.  This audio tour, which takes about 45 minutes, is interesting, as it guides you through the many parts of the prison and discusses the history of the prison and the famous devastating 1931 Napier Earthquake.  It was, as I say, interesting, and also sometimes a bit scary as you stand in some of the cells and very briefly sense what it would be like to be closed up in there for years on end.

Waterfall at Napier's Centennial Gardens

Centennial Gardens waterfall

On the way back down the hill, we stopped briefly at the Centennial Gardens, which has a man-made 40 metre high waterfall.  This was an old quarry manned by the prisoners from up the hill.  It is a very pleasant and peaceful place at times.

We then drove over to the I-Site (Information Centre) to join in the Art Deco Tour but were told that the tour now departs from the Art Deco Centre, a block north and across the street from the I-Site.  When we arrived there, we also discovered that the tour was not free, as we had thought, but cost $21 each for the two hour afternoon tour (and $16 for the one hour morning tour, which we had missed).  You can also buy a $7.50 guide book which will guide you through the art deco parts of town.  We decided to pass on all of these and simply sat on the beach to eat our lunch.

View from Mata Peak in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Mata Peak view north

We then drove to top of Mata Peak in Havelock North, which provides an amazing view of the entire Hawkes Bay area.  You can drive all the way to the very top, where there is a small car park, though many people park down below at the larger car park and walk up.  I’m glad we decided to drive up, as the walk is very steep and rather longer than I would care to make.  But the view, whether you drive or walk, is well worthwhile.  Be careful not to get too close to the edge, though, as it can be a very long drop if you slip.  It is stimulating and scary being that close to such a drop-off.

Cricket in New Zealand


On the way back down the hill, we stopped at a private school to watch a bit of cricket, a very popular British and New Zealand game, though both Andrew and I find it a bit boring.  Andrew compared it a bit to baseball, but only so far as saying that baseball is much less boring.  Andrew explained a bit about the game to me, and I agreed with him that it is a bit boring.  For the most part, the hitters don’t even bother to run, choosing instead to walk most of the time they hit the ball.

Hawke's Bay Farmer's Market in Hastings, New Zealand

Farmer's Market (click to enlarge)

Sunday morning, after checking out of Mon Logis B&B, we drove to Hastings for the Hawkes Bay Farmer’s Market.  This market is mostly indoors, which was nice with the high winds and slight showers we were experiencing in Hastings this morning.  As with most farmer’s markets we’ve attended, this one had a wide range of items, from fresh produce, through seedlings, to breads, jams, wines, and relishes, and much more.  It is always fun to visit a farmer’s market and enjoy the atmosphere, even if you don’t buy anything.

As usual, during the five hour drives to Napier and back, we listened to Audible books.  They are fun and make the otherwise sometimes-boring trip pass more quickly.

This little three day holiday was wonderful.  It was a nice break from the same ol’ everyday stuff at home, and we really did some fun things and enjoyed some yummy things, too.


This entry was posted in New Zealand North Island, New Zealand tourism, New Zealand travels and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.