From one coast to another: A Taranaki take on the Hawke's Bay
Deena Coster heads to the Hawke's Bay for the final days of summer.
Touching down to the feel of the Hawke's Bay sunshine beating down was the first indication the trip was going to be a goodie.
Any excuse to escape the disappointing Taranaki summer was welcome, but a chance to rediscover a place I last visited more than 15 years ago was always going to be a treat.
At first blush, Napier - where I spent the majority of my two-day stay - is not unlike New Plymouth.
Napier's Marine Parade, like the coastal walkway in New Plymouth, is a well trodden path used by walkers, runners and cyclists.
It's a real showcase for the South Pacific Ocean and an obvious playground for the city's residents.
Napier is a very walkable city, with a lot of interesting things to look at on the way, including its Art Deco architecture, public art and garden spaces dotted around the city.
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A meander up to the Bluff Hill Lookout will not disappoint. With vehicle access also available, it's a popular spot for residents and tourists alike.
On a clear day you can catch a glimpse of Mahia Peninsula as well as the comings and goings of the city's port.
There's enough green space to sit down and relax too if you decided to pack a picnic.
However, despite its panoramic views, the best place to see the beauty and breadth of the Hawke's Bay is from the top of Te Mata Peak.
Providing visitors with a 360 degree of the region, reaching the peak involves a 30 minute drive from Napier to the south of Hastings.
While trails for walkers and mountain bikers are available, you can also drive to the top, with ample parking space available for those who make the journey.
It would be safe to say Te Mata Peak would be one of the most photographed spots in Hawke's Bay, especially on a blue sky day.
The landscape of the region also provides it with the means to grow the two items it is known for worldwide - fruit and wine.
Fruit production is big in the Bay, with apples the most popular export item by far.
But its hard to beat a visit to a few of the regional wineries on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon.
Courtesy of Bay Tours and Charters Hawke's Bay, which offers a door to door service from your accommodation to the winery stops and back again, I got to visit three of the region's 72 wineries.
At each, you get a chance to have a tipple of the different wine styles created in the area, while finding out snippets of information about the winery's grape growing history.
At one stop on the tour, I got a chance to taste grapes directly off the vine. Not unlike table grapes, they were small and incredibly juicy and it's one of the special experiences you might miss out on if you had to navigate the area on your own.
The same can be said for Napier's most well known feature - its Art Deco heritage. To get a true sense of the style and its history, a guided tour from a volunteer of the Art Deco Trust is just the ticket.
In my case, I got to travel around the city in the back of a 1966 Packard car and find out the story of how the Napier we know today was born out of the devastation wrought on the place after the 1931 earthquake.
The tour involves a trip out to Ahuriri, which boasts a variety of waterfront eateries, and a stop outside the magnificent National Tobacco Company Building, one of the best examples of the Art Deco style on show in the city.
A peek inside the Napier Municipal Theatre is next along with a cruise through the inner city streets, which gives you a real appreciation of the influence the distinctive style has had.
Its unique architecture is what makes Napier one of a kind, and a lure for tourists. The value the region places on tourism is not lost on those who visit either.
Travellers of all types are welcomed with open arms and everyone I met during my stay was so friendly and accommodating.
Hawke's Bay does feel like a home away from home.
For a visitor, the region certainly turns on the charm and delivers on the things you need it to do in order to enjoy your downtime to the fullest.
The writer travelled courtesy of Jetstar.
More information: Jetstar.com
Getting there: Jetstar offers all day, everyday low fares on regional services between Auckland, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington. Flights depart daily and are priced from $45 one-way, checked baggage not included. Terms and conditions apply.
Booking: Jetstar.com is a one-stop-shop when exploring your own backyard. Affordable regional flights, accommodation, activities and rental cars can be booked straight from the Jetstar website, ensuring you save money so you have more to spend enjoying your holiday!