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Road Trip New Zealand: Go Hawke’s Bay & Tairāwhiti

If you’re like us, you travel with your belly as much as your eyes, which is why taking a road trip around Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay (known as Food and Wine Country) is a double whammy in treats. Lush scenery, coastal vibes, wineries for miles, and delectable local eats that can’t be beat.

If you’re like us, you travel with your belly as much as your eyes, which is why taking a road trip around Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay (known as Food and Wine Country) is a double whammy in treats. Lush scenery, coastal vibes, wineries for miles, and delectable local eats that can’t be beat.

Touring this North Island east coast pocket of New Zealand packs a punch. Combine both itineraries for a blinder of a week-long adventure in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.

4-Day, 210km: Go Pacific Coast Highway – Hawke’s Bay to Tairāwhiti Gisborne

Kick-off day one in Hawke’s Bay by collecting your rental car at the airport and heading 10 minutes into Napier’s CBD. The Art Deco vibes are a major drawcard in Napier, and a tour with the Art Deco Trust gets you beyond the aesthetics into the soul of Napier.

Fresh, fun, comfort food in the heart of Napier’s dining district.
Fresh, fun, comfort food in the heart of Napier’s dining district at Bistronomy

Later, celebrate New Zealand’s Food and Wine Country with dinner at an award-winning restaurant. These are our drool-worthy top picks: Central Fire Station or Bistronomy.

Day two, spend more time uncovering Napier CBD gems, including a historical deep-dive at the MTG Museum and National Aquarium of NZ.

Heading out of the CBD next, the iconic Church Road Winery is calling. Explore the history of their much-praised vintage TOM wines with a 2-hour experience.

Come face to face with over 20,000 gannets in their natural habitat with Cape Kidnappers Gannet Safaris
Come face to face with over 20,000 gannets in their natural habitat with Cape Kidnappers Gannet Safaris

Contrast fine wines with fine scenery on a 4×4 safari experience to see the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony. Aside from encountering some of the 20,000 gannets that call this habitat home, you’ll also pass the pristine coastline, native bush, and working farmland. Return to Napier or stay in the charming Havelock North village.

Award-winning food and wine, outstanding architecture, and warm balmy days surrounded by magnificent landscapes – Hawke’s Bay is pure paradise.
Award-winning food and wine, outstanding architecture, and warm balmy days surrounded by magnificent landscapes – Hawke’s Bay is pure paradise.

It would be remiss to skip any of Hawke’s Bay’s 38 cellar doors, right? That’s why we suggest the adventurous take a Takaro Trails Cycle Tour. For everyone else, join a half- or full-day tour with Prinsy’s, or follow the effortless self-guided Cape Coast Winery tour route.

On your final day (unless you’re linking with the tour below), take the Pacific Coast Highway north to Tairāwhiti Gisborne. En-route, check out the white sand paradise of Mahia Beach, where the chill Kiwi beach vibes make you never want to leave!

3-Day, 210km: Go Tairāwhiti Gisborne to Napier

Start your Tairāwhiti adventures at one of the town’s spectacular beaches. Witness the legendary surf breaks from Waikanae Beach, Midway/Pipe, or Wainui Beach. Each is a fine introduction to Kiwi surf culture!

Stay in a zen cabin and it's easy to see why Gisborne is one of the country's favourite summer spots.
Stay in a zen cabin and it’s easy to see why Tairāwhiti Gisborne is one of the country’s favourite summer spots.

If the ocean air has stimulated your appetite, head to Matawhero Wines for a delicious platter amid the vineyards (and wine tasting, of course). You can even overnight here.

Getting to grips with Tairāwhiti’s history is easy on the Tupapa Heritage Trail. The popular 4km walking trail is enhanced thanks to its excellent app.

Watching sunrise in Tairāwhiti Gisborne is an #NZMustDo because it’s the first city in mainland New Zealand to see it rise. So, day two, make your way to the summit of Titirangi Reserve for panoramic views and that sense of being ahead of the pack. Once a pā (fortified city), Titirangi is an ancestral site of the Ngāti Oneone people.

For another unique Tairāwhiti experience, head 5km out of the city for a taste of country life with Gisborne Railbike Adventure. Rent a standard bike, an e-bike, or (our pick) a 1-hour tandem railbike journey where you cycle along the railway track!

Extending far into the deep water of Tolaga Bay, this wharf is a legendary place to dangle a fishing line.
Extending far into the deep water of Tolaga Bay, this wharf is a legendary place to dangle a fishing line.

Rejuvenated from the fresh country air, road trip 50 minutes to NZ’s longest wharf. While Tolaga Bay Wharf was once a bustling spot for ship trading, now it’s a leisure-focused area. Fish, stroll Cooks Cove Walkway, or nab an oven-fresh pizza from the legendary Broad Bill’s Uawa Food Trailer.

Return to Tairāwhiti Gisborne for a buzzy night at Sunshine Brewery or UssCO Bar and Bistro for a more sophisticated tipple and meal.

Discover the Short-tail stingrays (Whai), Eagle Rays and other reef dwellers that reside on the Reef at Tatapouri with Dive Tatapouri.
Discover the Short-tail stingrays (Whai), Eagle Rays and other reef dwellers that reside on the Reef at Tatapouri with Dive Tatapouri.

Make your final day memorable with a reef ecology tour with Dive Tatapouri. Interact with stingrays, eagle rays, and the other marine life that call Tatapouri Bay home.

Conclude your epic roadie with a soak at the therapeutic Morere Hot Springs. Pack a picnic to enjoy in the 364-hectares of rainforest.

Depart from Gisborne Airport or return your rental vehicle to Hawke’s Bay Airport (three hours’ drive).

The Top Five Things to Do in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti

5. Do

Find an Art Deco Trust tour to suit your style on your next visit to Napier and Hawke’s Bay.
Find an Art Deco Trust tour to suit your style on your next visit to Napier and Hawke’s Bay.
  • Napier’s Art Deco Tour is a brilliant way to understand the essence of the city and its history. The vintage car tour option really wows.
  • In Tairāwhiti, Dive Tatapouri’s reef tour with wild stingrays and eagle rays is an exhilarating #NZMustDo.

4. Explore

Experience the history of Turanganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne and the origins of Aotearoa New Zealand’s defining dual heritage.
Experience the history of Turanganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne and the origins of Aotearoa New Zealand’s defining dual heritage.
  • An overland safari to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony is a top-rated way to see 20,000 of the locals (birds) and the area’s spectacular coastal scenery.
  • In Tairāwhiti, the 4km Tupapa Heritage Trail brings a deeper perspective to the city’s culture and heritage.

3. Drink

Discover Church Road TOM within the atmospheric surroundings of Church Road Winery's underground museum.
Discover Church Road TOM within the atmospheric surroundings of Church Road Winery’s underground museum ©Chris McLennan
  • For Hawke’s Bay, a food and wine tour is a travel win. Self-drive, enjoy a guided tour or rent a cycle for a fun way to explore the vines.
  • In Tairāwhiti Gisborne, hip Siduri Wine Bar focuses on organic and biodynamic wines, with accompanying delectable deli treats, too.

2. Eat

Gisborne Farmers Market
Gisborne Farmers Market
  • Napier’s Pacifica is an impressive degustation-only restaurant. Be sure to book ahead.
  • Gisborne’s Crawford Road Kitchen is delish thanks to its emphasis on local food and wines. The Gisborne Farmer’s Market is worth a visit, too.

1. Stay

The exquisite Art Deco Suite at the Art Deco Mesonic Hotel overlooks Marine Parade to the Pacific Ocean
The exquisite Art Deco Suite at the Art Deco Mesonic Hotel overlooks Marine Parade to the Pacific Ocean

Get Inspired

This drool-worthy video leaves us with no doubt why Hawke’s Bay is lauded for its food and wine! #takeusnow

Watch to discover why Tairāwhiti is a destination filled with firsts.

Driving Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti

Winding your way up along State Highway 35 with plenty of hidden gems along the way including the stunning Tokomaru Bay
Winding your way up along State Highway 35 with plenty of hidden gems along the way including the stunning Tokomaru Bay

The wide-open plains and stunning coastal drives make for an effortless road trip around Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.

If you’re visiting Tairāwhiti Gisborne to dance your soul out at Rhythm and Vines, prep for an influx of traffic as some 20,000 attendees flock to Gissy for this festival pilgrimage.

Get the Road Trip Playlist

Good food, good wine, and good company. What could complement these better than good music! Thanks to the Hawke’s Bay team, listen to this Spotify playlist to complete the good vibes.

When you’re the first to rise in New Zealand, you need an uplifting playlist to match your pioneering spirit. Thankfully the Tairāwhiti team pulled this Spotify list together for your travel inspiration.

Travel Advisor? Gain Access to the Marketing Hub Toolkit Here

Easter eggs are great and everything, but our favourite treat this April is the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti webinar. Alongside nuggets of fab facts about the two regions, there’s also a chance to win one of five localised gift hampers. And, drum roll please, five flights to NZ, too! Register now and mark the 6th of April in your calendar.

If you’d like to get cracking on the finer details of what makes Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti so special, head to the Tourism New Zealand Marketing Hub Toolkit.

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