Air NZ's top 10 picks for Hawkes Bay

Missionaries found thriving Hawkes Bay wine industry

When French Missionaries planted grape vines in the Hawkes Bay soil back in 1838 for their own table and sacramental wine they probably had no idea of what would follow.

Their modest efforts in fact established New Zealand’s very first winery and when they sold a parcel of dry reds in 1870 they made what is believed to be the first commercial sale of the country’s wine.

These days the Hawkes Bay has over 140 vineyards and 30 wineries and is still at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry which exports well over a million litres all over the world every year.

The Marist Fathers’ pioneering efforts live on at the Mission Estate Winery and if you visit La Grande Maison on the Estate today you can still see one row of Muscat grapes that have been grafted from the very first stock planted by them.

Appreciating the industry that has resulted from those plantings is almost an essential part of any visit to the Hawkes Bay and rates highly in our..

Top 10 picks of things to do in the region:

  • Wine – enjoy Hawkes Bay’s bounty through organised tours, cycle trips or casually dropping in on the many wineries which often also have their own restaurant and cafes attached

  • Food – the same sunny climate and soils that produce excellent wine grape crops also produce amazing food. Fresh or crafted into tantalising goodies -you must try the local food and a great place to start is at the farmers’ markets in both Napier and Hastings

  • Art Deco – badly damaged by an earthquake in 1931, Napier was rebuilt in art deco style. Today the city has the highest concentration of art deco architecture in the world which you can appreciate simply by walking through the city or by taking a guided tour 

  • Gannet Colony – visit the world’s largest mainland gannet nesting site at nearby Cape Kidnappers

  • The National Aquarium of New Zealand – located right beside the Pacific Ocean in Napier, the aquarium gives you the chance to view hundreds of species of fish found in local waters

  • Cycling

  • Award winning country gardens

  • Beaches – for everything from sunbathing and swimming to surfing , diving and fishing

  • Walks – the region is ideal for walking with some favourite spots including Lake Waikaremoana and Cape Kidnappers

  • Fishing – sea and river


Air New Zealand flies between Hawkes Bay (Napier and Hastings) and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch linking it with 23 other destinations on its domestic network. For information and to book flights to Napier visit


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