Esk Valley. Home to vineyards and wineries, some the oldest in Hawkes Bay, Lavender Farm, Historic Church and cafes. It is 12 minutes north of Napier and 25 minutes from the wilderness rivers such as the Mohaka. There a number of family run accommodation providors. Esk Valley Lodge for example is a fully restored old farmhouse set in vineyards orchards and gardens.
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (which translates into English as The hilltop, where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his koauau (flute) to his beloved).
The Hawke's Bay district gets its name from Hawke Bay, a large bay in the North Island's eastern coastline. The district extends south almost to Woodville in Wairarapa.
Hawke's Bay was one of the original colonial provinces when New Zealand was colonised by British settlers in the mid to late nineteenth century. The flat fertile land has been developed for farming. Initially sheep, later beef and dairying as well as forestry, orcharding and cropping. The warm dry sunny climate makes the region ideal for winegrowing and the vineyard industry has developed strongly in recent years.
State Highway 2 passes through the centre of Napier and Hastings and the provincial towns.
State Highway 5 - the Napier-Taupo road - joins State Highway 2 just north of Napier.
If travelling from the south, State Highway 50 provides a scenic route that is more direct to Napier However will bypass Waipukurau, Waipawa and Hastings. This road is of a slightly lower standard than State Highway 2 and has some narrow winding sections that need to be taken slowly as well as a couple of single lane bridges with sharp approach coners at the bottom of steep grades, so take care.
If travelling from Taihape, the historic Taihape road over the Kaweka Ranges can be entertaining. It has an incrediably steep bit called the 'Gentle Annie' and and the store keeper at the bottom kept a team of draught horses especially to carry wagons over this one piece of road. Much of the road is dirt, but still easily driveable in a 2 wheel drive hatchback. It comes out at Fernhill, halfway between Hastings and Napier.
Cape Kidnappers - gannet colony and panoramic views of the bay
Te Mata peak - drive to the top for panoramic views
National Aquarium of New Zealand , 546 Marine Parade, Napier. The National Aquarium has a reef tank, a travelator which spirals its way beneath the enormous Oceanarium, creating the impression of a true underwater experience, and a typical New Zealand rocky shore environment. There are sharks, stingray and hundreds of fish species, many of them representative of the catches from along the East Coast. There are eels, trout, sea horse, turtles, octopus, tropical marine fish, kiwi, tuatara, water dragons, native frogs and crocodile also on display.
Hawke's Bay Wine Tours. Hawke's Bay is the country's oldest winemaking region, and tours depart Napier at 1PM, returning at 5PM. The tours visit 4-5 local wineries for tastes of Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and other wines as well as local cheeses.
Coastal Wine Cycles, 41 East Rd, Te Awanga, ☎ 06 280 5352, . 11am to 3pm. We rent classic beach-cruiser bicycles to explore the coastal wineries and other attractions of Te Awanga, Hawke's Bay. There is a dedicated cycleway along the coast linking the wineries.$40. edit
The Puketapu Restaurant and Bar (Classic country pub established in the 1800's), 679 Puketapu Road, Puketapu, ☎ +64 6-8447206, . 11am to close. Award winning traditional country pub with a restaurant and bar. In between Hastings and Napier at the historic Puketapu site. Originally built in the 1800's. Situated in the middle of Hawkes Bays bike tracks, ideal for a cycle break. Open 11am to close Tuesday to Sunday and 3pm to close on Mondays. Family friendly Hawkes Bay Hospo award winner 2011.edit