From the stinky gannet poop to a prison where hanging took place or a drivable beach, Hawke’s Bay has plenty of quirky charm. There is a very unusual museum dedicated to an animal most kiwis want dead and is an Australian native beloved by Aussies. Find a hot spring that is very, very difficult to get to. Handy hint, lace up your tramping boots.
Dancing fountains at night – Marine Parade
Dancing lights, misty fanned water and the night breeze create a memorizing show. It’s free and watch individuals challenging the spouting water and laughing when they get wet. It’s a fascinating and very instagram moment.
UNUSUAL OPOSSUM COLLECTABLES, MUSEUM
Possums are classified as a kiwi pest due to their propensity to devour native birds and strip endangered plants of their leaves. The museum pays homage to the national pest with possum fur collectables, stories about the rampaging possums in the bush and taxidermied possums standing to attention as the story of their damage is told.
FASCINATING NAPIER PRISON
Imagine standing by the Hanging Wall, it is a sheer rock wall face towering above a small courtyard and it’s the last place you will ever see in your lifetime. It is slightly spooky knowing you are visiting a prison yet oddly it is also fun as you know the way out of the place.
MANGATAINOKE HOT SPRINGS – HOT SPRINGS WITH A DIFFERENCE
Discover a hot spring where there are definitely no crowds. You have to tramp for several hours and stay overnight at Te Puia Hut (Lodge). The idyllic hot pools are a welcome respite after the tramp through the beautiful Kaweka Forest Park. The nearby Mohaka river is spectacular and the treat at the end is worth the journey. At the hot springs, there are 3 pools surrounded by a decking area. These pools have valves to control water flow and to empty the tubs. The hot springs are on a small manuka terrace beside the Mohaka River.
The Mangatainoka Hot Springs Campsite is adjacent to the pools. If you wish to travel up the river from the hot springs, it’s private land and prior permission from the landowner is required. For details check Te Puia Hut Track and Mangatainoka Hot Springs.
GANNETS, THOUSANDS OF THEM CREATE A MASSIVE POOP SCENTED PILE
Cape Kidnappers is fascinating, the gannet colony with thousands of birds preening, swooping, diving and gliding into land before your eyes. A top ten thing to do in the Hawke’s Bay yet what is not mentioned is the smell. It stinks badly. You’ll likely smell a gannet colony before you arrive. Ingredients for the stink are guano, fish and fresh sea air. However, don’t let that put you off. Wear a mask and eventually the smell of ammonia will fade as you are intrigued with the gannets behaviour.
FASCINATING BIODYNAMIC GARDEN
WELEDA’S BIODYNAMIC GARDENS (HAVELOCK NORTH)
Delve into the ethos of a biodynamic garden where 50 medicinal plant species are cultivated in the Mediterranean climate of Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay. The New Zealand gardeners work the fields according to the principles of biodynamic farming. The harvesting is mostly done by hand, avoiding the use of heavy farm equipment, which keeps the soil light and airy. Weleda’s health and beauty products are grown and produced in more than 50 countries. See fields of lavender, calendula and echinacea at its Havelock North farm. Then the joy of visiting the farm shop for cosmetics and medicines at the shop. Tours are free by appointment.
MEDITERRANEAN DELIGHTS IN THE Hawke’s Bay
TE MATA FIGS
Who needs to go to the Mediterranean when it’s next door in the Hawke’s Bay.
Go on a tour of this Havelock North figgery, then sample and buy some of the artisan fig products, including the special salame di fichi (fig and walnut roll). The season of plenty is February to mid May when you can sample over twenty varieties of fresh figs. There are fig plants for sale, with the espaliered fig trees very tempting
DRIVABLE BEACH – POURERERE BEACH (WAIPUKURAU)
Amazing gem in the Central Hawke’s Bay beach is perfect for swimming, fishing and surfing. The beach is a local favourite for fishing with an annual fishing competition and beach polo a summer highlight. The beach is drivable. You may take your vehicle on the beach, you can drive at low tide around Shoal Bay and further to Blackhead. Be careful with tides and follow where others have driven. The beach is classified as a road so vehicles do need to be driven according to the road rules. On the beach pedestrians and children have the right of way.
WHEN IS A PLACE FORGOTTEN – BRIDGE PA
Bridge Pa is a blip on the road for visitors travelling to Napier or to the airport. Formerly known as Korongata pa, the current name reflects a bridge that used to span the Te Awa Ateaatua stream, now an underground culvert. The area is now a premium wine growing area with its own terroir. For more information about the blip, check, Bridge Pa, Hawke’s Bay trip guide, best things to do & see: Best Bits. The quietly forgotten stories are worth remembering.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE.