What to do, where to stay, what to eat and see in New Zealand’s North Island.
Air New Zealand
Award-winning airline with long haul options including SkyCouch (three economy seats that become a flat space) premium economy, and Business Premier. Its extensive domestic network, links to several South Pacific destinations, lounges, Star Alliance membership and direct flights from Vancouver make it a great choice for Canadians. Air New Zealand.
Gannet Safaris Overland
Spirited and witty guides provide a tour of the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers by vehicle. On the way ducks, herds of cattle, sheep and birds provide a glimpse into the native and non-native fauna of the area. With ample time for photo-ops and observing the gannets, this is a relaxing and informative way to see these striking birds and learn more about this unique area. +64 6 875 0888; Gannet Safaris Overland.
The Old Church Restaurant & Bar
With views of Ruahine and Kaweka Ranges, this restored 19th century church complex routinely plays host to wine and food events, and weddings. 199 Meeanee Road Napier, Hawke’s Bay; +64 6 844 8866; The Old Church Restaurant and Bar
F.A.W.C! Food & Wine Classic
Bi-annual (summer and winter) food and wine event in Hawke’s Bay. Experiences range from masterclasses, degustation dinners, secret location lunches, wine tastings and seminars at locations throughout the area. The event also prides itself on “quirky, fun-filled, and out-of-the-box” experiences. F.A.W.C! Food&Wine Classic.
Hooters Vintage & Classic Vehicle Hire
Tour guides and chauffeurs bedecked in bespoke 1920s attire, take guests in vintage cars throughout Napier. A fun and unique ride, these customized tours fit the Art Deco vibe that characterizes the city. 68 Thames Street, Pandora, Napier, +06 835 1722; Hooters Vintage and Classic Vehicle Hire.
Art Deco Tour
Napier is known for its Art Deco architecture, the result of rebuilding after a massive earthquake destroyed the earlier city. Highlights of this tour include the National Tobacco Company Building, Marewa suburb, and Maori motifs incorporated in the 1930s style. 7 Tennyson St, Napier;
Provides a wide and diverse range of bus tours in Hawke’s Bay, including winery visits, fishing, and rural experiences. Our wine tour included hotel transfer, tastings at several local wineries, lunch and a jaw dropping panorama atop Te Mata Peak. +06 845 3703; Prinsy’s Tours.
Craggy Range Winery
In the shadow of Te Mata Peak, this 20-year old, family run winery boasts a restaurant, lodge, cottages and tasting room. 253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay; Craggy Range Winery.
Famous for its wines, produced in the gravel soil of the area, the winery was responsible for launching the Gimblett Gravels wine district. Once considered a poor growing area, in the former Ngaruroro riverbed, the area is now one of the prime wine growing areas in New Zealand. Acclaimed winemaker Kate Radburnd produces an array of award-winning wines. 1133 Omahu Road Twyford Hastings, Hawke’s Bay; +64 6 879 7906; Pask Winery.
Scott’s Strawberry Farm
Family farm growing strawberries, stone fruit, melons and more, owner Billy Scott is an enthusiastic ambassador of his produce. His strawberries have become well-known throughout the country as a favourite of chef Al Brown, often starring on his restaurant menus. Fruits and vegetables are sold at the farm, local stores and the farmer’s market. Open from October to March, +06 877 2895; 286 Te Aute Road, Havelock North
Elephant Hill Winery
Sleek, modern lines and a teal colour scheme meant to echo the nearby ocean, a culinary powerhouse restaurant and award winning wines including the spectacular reserve Syrah are the hallmarks of this winery. Owners, the Weiss family, seamlessly blend traditional winemaking and modern techniques.
86 Clifton Rd Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay, +64 6 873 0400; Elephant Hill Winery.
EAT AND STAY
Historical 12-room luxury boutique hotel set on a beautifully manicured estate. The property recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment. High tea and a daily tasting menu featuring local produce make it a standout culinary destination in the area. On site amenities include a pool, spa, gym and gardens. What makes this hotel special is the conscientious and committed staff and serene atmosphere. 466 Napier Road, Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay, +64 6 878 3234; Mangapapa Hotel.
A short ride via the Waiheke Express Taxi (ferry) from Auckland, this island in the Hauraki Gulf is home to several vineyards, art galleries, beaches including Onetangi Beach and water sports. A great destination for a wine-tasting day-trip.
Air New Zealand Wine Awards
Air New Zealand is known for showcasing some of the finest wines produced in New Zealand on its flights. In this annual wine competition gold medals and trophies are awarded to the best producers in the country from among 1500 wine entries. 2016 marked the 30th year of the awards which include a black-tie gala featuring chefs, winemakers and notable New Zealanders. Air New Zealand Wine Awards
Villa Maria Winery
Auckland winery begun by George Fistonich in the 1960s, it has grown to include vineyards in both the North and South Islands. Tours and wine tastings underscore the winery’s sustainability program. 118 Montgomerie Rd, Mangere, Auckland; Villa Maria winery.
EAT AND STAY
The Sugar Club
Renowned chef Peter Gordon made a name for himself with The Sugar Club and this incarnation at the Sky Tower offers gorgeous views of the Pacific, neighbouring islands and a lush Art Deco interior. Gordon’s signature fusion cuisine is evident in dishes like laksa with south island whitebait and zealong oolong panna cotta. Level 53, Sky Tower, +64 9 363 636;
Part of the massive SkyCity entertainment complex, this 312-room luxury property overlooks Auckland’s downtown and harbour. Also features modern décor, spa, pool and a wide-range of in-house and nearby restaurants. From $379, 90 Federal Street, Auckland, 0800 759 2489;
Regularly awarded honours and accolades, this restaurant provides an immersive dining experience from acclaimed chef Michael Meredith. With degustation only menus, superb wine pairings, and an intimate dining room, it is a must-do in Auckland. 365 Dominion Road Mount Eden, Auckland, (09) 623 3140; Merediths Restuarant.
ROTORUA AND AREA
Take in panoramic views of Rotorua while ascending Mt Ngongotaha in a gondola. An entertainment complex including luge, a winery, bicycle trails, zipline and more is situated at the top. Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar provides delicious buffet fare with something for everyone. Rotorua Skyline.
EAT AND STAY
Bistro Lago at the Hilton Lake Taupo
Beautifully decorated restaurant serving classic French bistro fare and international classics. Also offers a nice selection of New Zealand wines. 80-100 Napier Taupo, Taupo; +64 (07) 376 2319; Bistro Lago at The Hilton Lake Taupo.
The Kinloch Club
Recently built, this property boasts views of Lake Taupo, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, villa and suite accommodation, and a lodge. The restaurant features a multi-course set menu with all the flourishes of fine-dining. 261 Kinloch Rd, Acacia Bay, Kinloch 3377; +64 7-377 8482; The Kinloch Club
Treetops Lodge and Estate
Situated on 2500 secluded acres, in an area renowned for its trout fishing, amidst native forests, this lodge offers a range of accommodation including villas and a private cottage. Other amenities include helicopter adventures, a spa, and wilderness experiences. Don’t miss the estate’s manuka honey, and access to sister lodge the Kinloch Club’s golf course. 351 Kearoa Road, RD1 Horohoro, Rotorua; +64 7 333 2066; Treetops Lodge and Estate.
Driving Creek Railway and Potteries
Begun by the late Barry Brickell as a way to facilitate his vocation in pottery, the narrow-gauge mountain railway has become one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand. Brickell and other artists’ pottery flank the track as the train winds its way through replanted native kauri forest. The one-hour journey culminates in magnificent views from Eyefull Tower. 380 Driving Creek Road, Coromandel; +64 7 866 8703; Driving Creek Railway and Potteries.
Mercury Bay Estate Vineyard
Enjoy scenic views of rolling hills and vineyards leading to the bay while sipping local wines and food from Cellar Door restaurant which excels at pizzas and platters. Owners Simon and Veronica Ward are regularly on hand and provide homey hospitality. 761A Purangi Road Cooks Beach, RD1, Whitianga; 07 866 4066; Mercury Bay Estate Vineyard.
This original article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.