New Zealand, Road Trips

A Classic Roadtrip – Hawkes Bay

Eight days later we faced together quite happily another roadtrip and a birthday.

West for mine ( Summer – Let’s go for a Roadie to Taranaki).  East for the Squire.  There was no particular reason why it worked out that way.   Nowadays, we decide by figuratively throwing a dart at a map of the North Island, have a short planning session then start the car engine.

This is how we roll these days.  Planning too far ahead is a no go.


Panoramic view of Gisborne_edited

A place we both enjoy visiting and it is made more special by having family still living there.  One particular lovely lady we get to visit is my Auntie Jan.   Who always seems to surprise us one way or another.  This trip it was her playing the ukelele and serenading the Squire with a birthday tune.  Fun.


Wairoa Lighthouse_edited

One of the first things that stands out while driving into Wairoa is the lighthouse, it was built initially on the Portland Island off Mahia Penisula and was one of the earliest lighthouse sites in New Zealand. Constructed from solid Kauri, it was in use from 1878 to 1960. It was moved to its current location beside the Wairoa river in 1960, following the introduction of an automated lighting system at Portland Island.  In 2016, local resident Richard Lynch embarked on a project to repaint the top of the lighthouse and was amazed to find that beneath the coats of paint that had been applied over the years was a pristine copper dome

The Wairoa River runs south for 65 kilometres from the inland east coast region of the North Island, west of Gisborne, before flowing into northern Hawke Bay via Wairoa.

Not only was the riverside walk pleasant after driving for a few hours, but we were also suitably impressed with the general upkeep and seemingly positive vibe of this smallish farming service town.

Eastend Cafe_edited

Who would have thought we would find a very funky cafe, excellent espresso and cake, in a small town in the middle of the backcountry.  Throw in some interesting artwork and a relaxing half an hour people watching, and we were revived to hit the road once again.  Of course, not literally.

Another fact we didn’t know about Wairoa before arriving was the town actually holds The Wairoa Maori Film Festival and in 2005 Taika Waititi as director, won an award for his Short Film Drama (Aotearoa) Award:  Two Cars One Night.  His latest movie to watch is JoJo Rabbit.  There you have it small towns can be full of surprises.


A hazy morning 2_edited

Being on the same coast and down the line from Gisborne, Napier is also known for it’s beautiful sunrise vistas.

Other similar attributes are it’s stunning countryside vineyards, waterfront walks, cafes with exquisite food, orchards brimming with stonefruit fruit, and long hot summer days.

Sculptures along the waterfront_edited

Interesting sculptures alongside the waterfront walkway.

Les - all good_edited
The sunken garden along the waterfront_edited

There’s no shortage of photogenic flora in Napier, and like us, visitors will enjoy a fragrant respite in the Sunken Gardens, located below street level along the Marine Parade. Dating back to the 1960s but renovated in 2001, the gardens’ paths that wind between manicured flower beds and ponds.  There is a waterwheel that’s more than a century old, as well as its lush lawns, all perfect for a picnic lunch accompanied by a bottle of local sauvignon blanc.  We didn’t partake in the picnic nor the local vino as it was early morning, we were thankful we had made an effort to head out early as the day’s temperature was well over the mid-30s.  A good time to mention most of us in the North Island has had a sweltering summer.

Art Deco architecture_edited

What is uniquely Napier is it’s outstanding Art Deco Architecture.  This is the major drawcard and is celebrated every year with The Art Deco Weekend, where all 1930’s glamour, cars, fashion is on display, and general joviality is in abundance.

Prairie style and Egyptian revival_edited

Most of what was on offer we took advantage of with enthusiasm. Best of all we had the opportunity to spend time together and to visit family.  So all in all, we had a super time and created more birthday memories with lunch at the Mission Estate Winery, the food and the surroundings making it an exceptional treat. More on this excellent Winery very shortly.

Les the birthday lad_edited

Until, next time.

49 thoughts on “A Classic Roadtrip – Hawkes Bay”

  1. Hi Suzanne,
    Loved the idea of the spontaneous road trip…I tend to be an “over planner”. Maybe I should do a literal “dart into the map” rather than just your figurative one. Lovely architecture!
    visiting from #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved that statue of the woman on the pole and that you found a couple of nice “rest breaks” along the way. Nothing like a road trip to get you out and about and enjoying time together.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this part of the north island too. The light over there is so clear – something that comes out in your photos which are, as always, great. It’s sort of surreal seeing all the art deco in one place, but also so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your photos are gorgeous Suzanne and along with your post, sparked many memories for me. When we visited Napier I had no idea about the Art Deco architecture. I really loved it and it’s Napier I think of now when NZ is mentioned #MLSTL Sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We loved Napier and the bay area when we visited NZ. We hired bikes and rode around the wineries and the Art Deco scene was spectacular! Thanks for sharing this great road trip Suz and we’re so glad the Squire enjoyed his special day πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pleased to hear that your friends had a great time over here. Yes, I enjoy the Art Deco era as it was far more creative than say the 1970s which was full of bad taste and boring architecture.


  6. I love visiting New Zealand. Especially enjoy the fabulous coffee shops with their great coffee and cakes that seem to be features in even the smallest towns. And the scenery, well what more can I say! Also the friendly people who make this pair of Aussies feel so welcome that we keep wanting to return. It’s great reading about your tripping around, Suzanne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, I am pleased that you have been had a warm welcome from NZers. We feel the same way with Australia, a country which we have travelled around and enjoyed immensely over the years.


    1. Mel, you are right what’s not to love about small towns, having lived in a few I now prefer a smallish city. Though still appreciate a variety of smaller places around NZ and beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You made me smile Anabel. Funny, that you should mention warmth, I am looking forward to the cooler days of Autumn. Napier has an interesting history and well kept.


  7. He’s looking well, in spite of it all, and you can only keep doing what you’re doing. And what a beautiful place you have to do it. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I wonder…? No, I’m pretty sure they won’t let me move to New Zealand. Ah me… never content!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jo, we are fortunate to have a very scenic country to live in. It seems so far from Europe, I suppose it is, though just not through distance alone. As I have mentioned on other occasions we have such fond memories of Portugal, and loved the country. Not forgetting England πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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