New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay is a haven for food and wine lovers, with winery visits, luxury lodges and superb restaurants on offer.
Visitors come from all over the country to sample James Beck’s sophisticated fare at Bistronomy in Napier, about a four-hour drive north of Wellington. To experience as many dishes as possible, opt for the six-course dégustation dinner, which may start with a house-made terrine before moving onto a mussel, fish and fennel chowder or free-range pork hock with green pea mash.
Over at Craggy Range Winery, chef Casey McDonald attracts diners with elegant dishes, such as hand-chopped venison tartare studded with deep-fried anchovy and garlic chive sauce. Many of the fruits and vegetables used are grown on site in the restaurant’s own garden and other ingredients are sourced from suppliers in the local area.
The views across cliffs and coast are intoxicating but that’s not the only thing that’s special about Elephant Hill Winery. This sleek, sustainable vineyard has collected a clutch of awards for its wines – the chardonnays are particularly acclaimed but it also makes excellent pinot noir, syrah and pinot gris. By contrast, old-world charm is on display at Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery, established in 1851 by French Catholic missionaries. It has the area’s grandest cellar door, an imposing two-storey colonial house, and there are more than 30 different wines to choose from. Tip: you won’t want to leave without a bottle of the spicy, fruity Jewelstone syrah.
Yes, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is on a working sheep station but there’s nothing rustic about this country retreat – unless you count the cute sheep ceramics on the breakfast table. The bright and spacious cottage-style suites, with their king-sized beds and views across Hawke’s Bay, are blissful places to hole up. Should you be feeling more social, find a cosy corner in the main lodge or head to the nightly cocktails and canapés (dress up for the occasion). The 18-hole golf course is a major draw but you may prefer to take a farm tour or book yourself in for a rejuvenating session at the spa.
Forget about sleeping in on Sunday mornings – in Hawke’s Bay, that’s the time to head to the weekly Farmers’ Market. Held at the showgrounds, you’ll find fresh-from-the-farm produce alongside gourmet treats – everything from custard-filled doughnuts to whitebait fritters. More food festivities happen at the twice-yearly FAWC or Food and Wine Classic. Held in May and November, the event changes each time but here’s a taster: this month’s festival includes a Japanese- Brazilian street party, a pop-up oyster and whitebait bar and opera-fuelled dégustation dinners.