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Explore Hawkes Bay Region



Hugs cliffs above the beach leading to Cape Kidnappers

At the foot of Gisborne's Kaiti Hill, a memorial on the beach marks the place where Captain James Cook and members of his crew from the Endeavour, first set foot in New Zealand in 1769. At the southern end of Poverty Bay are the white cliffs of Young Nicks Head, the headland named Nicholas Young, after a young boy in Cook's crew who made the first sighting of land and earned himself a gallon of rum as well as a place in the history books. Known as Gizzy to the locals, Gisborne is located at the convergence of three rivers, spanned by a number of bridges. Originally laid out in 1870, the city was named Turanga but later took the name of the Colonial Secretary Sir William Gisborne to avoid being confused with Tauranga. The city features a number of fine parks, recreational facilities and museums. The surrounding countryside features numerous historic locations the oldest church in Poverty Bay at Matawhero. Built originally as a schoolroom in 1865, it was also used as an Anglican then a Presbyterian church, and was spared destruction during a rebel Maori raid in 1868. Further south at Morere you will find a 200 ha reserve that features native forest that once cloaked much of the East Coast, providing a luxuriant setting for a complex of natural mineral hot pools. The most popular are the Nikau Pools which are a 10 minute walk into the rainforest where you can relax in the warm water and listen to the many birds. Huge volumes of heated non-sulphurous salt water emerges each day from the springs, having taken thousands of years to travel through superheated subterranean vents from the Pacific Ocean. The next main centre to the south is Wairoa with its lines of Phoenix palms bordering the Wairoa River and a Marine Parade featuring the historic lighthouse that was relocated from the Mahia Peninsula.

Hawkes Bay - Statue of Captain Cook, Kaiti Hill, Gisborne

Southwest from Wairoa across the Rabbit Bridge and the scenic Mohaka Viaduct the scenic highway continues to the wildlife reserve at Lake Tutira. It was originally declared a bird sanctuary by William Herbert Guthrie-Smith (1861 - 1940) who farmed neighbouring Tutira Station. Guthrie-Smith was one of the early pioneers of bird photography in New Zealand, photographing a number of bird species now gone from the lake, including the blue duck, weka, falcon and brown teal. There are still, however, large number of waterfowl at Lake Tutira including the Australian coot which first appeared in New Zealand at this location in 1954 before spreading to other parts of the country. It is not much further south on SH2 to Napier. Originally developed from a whaling and trading station in the 1840s, the city centre was almost entirely rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake which devasted most of the buildings. Art deco was at the height of its popularity in the 1930s, and the buildings were reconstructed in this single coherent architectural style. Today Napier possesses one of the most significant collections of these buildings in the world and holds an Art Deco weekend in February each year. The city was also remodeled to feature wider streets and among the earliest underground power and telephone lines in the country. Today a stroll along Napier's Marine Parade will take you to many of the city's attractions while the surrounding countryside features numerous vineyards just waiting to be explored, including the historic Te Mata Estate, which began production in 1896, as well as the Mission Vineyards, where the Marist Brothers planted their first vines in 1851. Hawke's Bay features very warm summers and a grape-growing season that extends right through into April which is perfect for late-maturing varieties such as riesling and cabernet sauvignon. With a wide range of soil types in the region, including the sought after river gravels, this district provides ideal conditions for all the classic grape varieties.