Hawkes Bay, North Island

Yesterday, we drove east from Taupo to the Art Deco captial of the southern hemisphere, Napier.

Napier was devastated by an earthquake in 1931, which killed 256 (or 258 depending on your source) mainly from the fires that followed the quake.  The quake added around 40 square kilometres of land to the town, that was previously undewater.  Being fairly determined folk, the locals quickly rebuilt the city, in the style of the time, that happened to be Art Deco.

As a bonus, this quake also changed the course of several rivers in the area, which meant that the former river-beds, were available (and richly fertile) for planting… mainly of vines.  Hawkes Bay was previously known as the “Salad Bowl of New Zealand”, for marketing and tourism reasons, it’s now known as “Hawkes Bay Wine Country”.  In 20 years it will be probably be “Hawkes Bay… Avocado Centre of the World” or whatever they are keen on that day 😉  Hawkes bay is home to a hell of a lot of winerys, vineyards and all the associated gumph.

Today, we joined Odyssey NZ‘s Wine & Gourmet Odyssey tour.  Our friendly host Carl picked us up from our motel, then pootled around the town(sorry.. city), picking up our co-wine-lovers  for the trip out to 4 of the areas wineries.

We started off with Sheep in the Vines.. Mission Estatethe Mission Estate, thoughtfully established by a French religous order, followed by the excellent Moana Park (try their Tawny Port..wow!), then a rush around Trinity Hill, ending up with a platter of yummy nibbles at the Vidal Estate.  We must have tried 30 or so different wines and ports throughout the afternoon… amazingly the group was surprising well behaved… tipsy yes.. but not as annihilated as I thought some might be!

A great tour, and a bargain at the $65(NZ) per person we paid.