Napier – Wine Country, New Zealand

Stroll along the Marine Parade, parks, gardens and memorials; inner streets lined with swaying palm trees. Here you first notice the art deco buildings, artfully created to re-establish a bustling city.

Devastated by a large earthquake in 1931, the city has banded together to once again rebuild. Each summer a festival takes place to celebrate the reconstruction. Performers dancing in the streets, music filling the alleyways; trains, planes and automobiles line up to be viewed; picnics and galas in vintage style.

Napier houses some of the oldest wineries and wine making, home to some of New Zealand’s best wines. The above average sunshine hours enables a lively and fruitful climate.

Mountains rise above the city, sheltering it from the chilly breezes, only allowing refreshing sea breezes to waft over the shops that dot the city centre.

Bike D’Vine Cycling Winery Tours

Napier is particularly known for its variation of tours through vineyards, across hill country and beyond.

Bike D’Vine Cycling Winery Tours allows you to cycle around the countryside at your pleasure, on your own time; provided with maps and instructions, or be adventurous and plan your own route.

Breath in the fresh air as you cycle along to the oldest vineyard in New Zealand – Mission Estate. Perched on the bluff above Taradale, the old mission house renovated to display fine architecture, while still holding onto old-world charm.

Explore the vineyards bordering Havelock North.

Black Barn vineyard greets you with extensive rows of planted trees. Growing all its wines on the 10 hectare property, you can wander through the vineyard filled with Chardonnay, sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux-style blends.

Roam the countryside of Craggy Range, also specialising in Bordeaux-style blends, the landscape surrounding the inspired European Chateau, a wide terrace looking out to the Tukituki River. The Terroir Restaurant is one of the best vineyard restaurants in the country.

Journey along routes taking you to Church Road winery. Beautiful park-like grounds surrounding a boutique vineyard. Regular award winners, tasting these smooth-on-the palate wines will sure to delight.

Bike along the country roads to Te Mata Estate; crossing over a small brick bridge, an old avocado tree shadowing the pathway, a roofless tower overhung with ivy, leading to an enclosed courtyard. Gently walk across the tiled fish ponds glistening with the summer light. Sample the delicate wines of Cabernet/Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and other exotic grape varieties.

Tour around Napier

But there’s a lot more to see than just vineyards. Bays Tours and Charters offer a range of wine and food tasting, along with sightseeing.

Relaxing back on one of their luxury coaches or vehicles, the driver will humorously inform you of the surrounds on your way to the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre, a fun and tasty experience for the family.

Walk through the hall of the interactive environment of the Honey Bee. As you emerge from viewing how the honey is created, you are greeted by a large table full of samples of every variety of honey you can imagine. Test out the honey beauty products.

The honey chocolate is sure to send your taste buds sizzling.

Your excursion then transports you to the Olivery centre, Hohepa cheese tasting and Chocolate factory and tasting.

The Silky Oak Chocolate Company and Café allow you to sample their range of exquisite chocolates. Stroll through the museum that contains a 2,000 year old Mayan chocolate pot. Sit back and sip one of their real chocolate drinks, or be adventurous and try the Triple Chocolate Dipper.

Pass by a variety of stump carvings, Maori village, Mission Estate winery and Sheepskins factory. Experiencing a hands-on free tour to see the whole process of how the wool is made, and buy authentic sheepskin products.

Or even better, plan your own journey. Exploring the roads, getting to know the sights.

Indulging Your Senses with Wine

The New Zealand Wine Centre is sure to excite any wine enthusiasts. State-of-the-art interactive wine tasting sends you into another world. Get lost in the aromas of the Aroma awareness room, sit back in a uniquely constructed theatre, and be taken high above the land.

Voyage to Park Estate Winery, a family-built Spanish mission-style complex on a 20 hectare site between two rivers. What may be most surprising about this winery are not only their fine red and white wines, but their fruit wines. Surprisingly delicate, enhancing the taste of the fruit. You can sample their wines and fruit juices, or relax back in the Mediterranean-style atmosphere of the restaurant.

They also offer home-grown fruits, jam, honey, pickles, chutney and creamy fudge.

 

 

Long Island Tours

Privately owned and customised tours journeys to the best of what Napier has to offer.

Mix and match your tours, take a day or overnight trip to private land, losing yourself amongst the wild life, following your guide while they take you to exclusive fishing spots.

Discover the culture of the Maori, involving yourself in their day-to-day life and past.

Stroll through country gardens filled with blooming plants and flowers.

But of course no tour can be complete without roving through the vineyards. Travel for a half or full day, tasting award-winning wines and food. Have a girl’s weekend away, or take the special Syrah tour.

Ferg’s Fantastic Tours

Drive through Napier’s Art Deco district to experience the wonderful tenacity of locals recovering from the 1931 earthquake. Stop at the Pania of the Reef, reliving the legend and having your photo taken by the statue.

Meander through the Centennial Gardens and waterfall, take a deep breath and look out over the expansive city.

Or take an afternoon tour to wander through the Tukituki river valley; savour palate exciting wines at one of the top wineries; get a sugar hit at Arataki honey; take a photo of the towering Te Mata Peak; indulge in freshly picked strawberry and chocolate sauce, cascading over real fruit ice cream or frozen yoghurt at the Strawberry Patch. And visit New Zealand’s oldest winery – Mission Estate and taste their food-altering wines.

Mohaka Rafting

Kick-start your adrenaline on these rafting tours.

Starting off with Grade 2, perfect for the whole family; gorges, mountains and native forests peacefully pass by as you gently cruise along the mild waters.

Grade 3 rafting begins with the basics, before thrusting into the unknown. Jump off a cliff into the chilly waters, swim through a gushing rapid, and stop mid-way through the four-plus hour trip to enjoy a lunch in the forest.

Grade 4/5 will get your heart racing, highest commercially grade rapid available. Cruise along flat calm water, suddenly surging into a 700 metre grade 4 rapid. Work hard to keep on the raft. Race past house size boulders, propelled through narrow shoots, for a moment catch your breath to grasp the surrounds before being propelled once again through water.

Family Adventure

For a day out with the kids visit Hawkes Bay Farmland Zoo. Friendly goats, sheep, Llamas and Alpacas roam the lush farmland, nudging your hand to encourage you to fed and pet them. It’s quite surprising how gently the large Llamas actually are, tickling your hand when they eat the pellets.

Spread out your picnic blanket, and relax on the green grass or picnic tables dotted around the zoo. Bite into your sandwich and watch the Flemish giant rabbits roam the picnic area, seeing what they can steal from you.

Watch a peacock spread its colourful wings to impress the female, pigs rolling on the dirt, sheep grazing, calves bouncing along behind their mother, ostriches extending their large necks to see what is going on, and turtles meandering along in their pen without a care in the world.

But the highlight would definitely be the pony rides. Little ones being led around the zoo track, while the older ones can learn to ride horses.

Experience the oldest route of transport, on horseback. Stride past the Tuki Tuki River, disappearing under the Black bridge, taking you to look at views of the many vineyards of the regions, nibble on your lunch while you look out over Cape Kidnappers.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand

You can only hazard a guess what will be greeting you when you enter into the architectural design of a stingray. Teetering on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the marine life living here rivals those throughout New Zealand.

Wind your way beneath the Oceanarium on the travelator; immersing yourself in the underwater world of eels, trout, sea horses, turtles, octopus and tropical marine fish.

Amble along the displays of kiwi, tuatara, water dragons, native frogs and crocodiles.

The Behind-the-Scenes tour is a stimulating way to encounter the animals hidden amongst the marine life. Observe the sharks circling the ocean tank, touch the scaly back of a turtle, or have a blue-tongued skink climb up your arm.

Experience close encounters with these amazing creatures, prepare and even feed some of the marine life, tour around the viewing areas as your guide describes the different species of fish swimming in its waters.

But the next thing is only for the dare-devil. Take the once in a life-time experience of submerging in the blue surrounds of the water. Watch as colourful fish zoom by, stingrays gliding along the bottom of the ocean floor, then suddenly come face-to-face with the fierce and misunderstood shark as it sashays so close to you, your heart will still be pounding once you leave.

The only place in New Zealand to allow free swimming with the sharks. Even the kids that are able to swim can explore this truly awe-inspiring environment.

Whatever your preference, Napier is sure to set your senses alight.

 

Sources:

Napier, “Tours”, Accessed 15/08/11

Mohaka Rafting, Accessed 15/08/11, www.mohakarafting.com

The National Aquarium, “Swimming with Sharks”, Accessed 15/08/11

Long Island Tours, Accessed 15/08/11, www.hawkesbaynz.com

Ferg’s Fantasic Tours, “Tours”, Accessed 15/08/11

 

 

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