From wildflowers, exquisite homes, to the best of Hawke's Bay wine - three events are showcasing the region, while raising money for Cranford Hospice.

To commemorate 25 years of the Hawke's Bay Wine Auction, last night a lucky 50 people enjoyed an Icons and Legends workshop with John Buck and Joe Babich at the Opera House.

Organiser Annabel Tapley-Smith said "some legendary and iconic people" had presented wines to the group attending. As well as asking questions about wine, guests were given an insight into varieties of wine over the past three decades, and how they had evolved.

"It was a nice kick-off to celebrating 24 hours of Hawke's Bay Wine Auction 25 years," she said.


Tonight the auction will get under way, with Hawke's Bay's most talented winemakers providing more than 40 lots of wine, many being specially blended.

The special anniversary would be opened by an equally special guest. Although she could not reveal who this was, Ms Tapley-Smith said it was someone the committee was thrilled to have accepted their invitation to open the auction.

"The special guest attending helps lift the profile of Cranford Hospice, and we're thrilled that he considers it an organisation that he would like to support," she said.

"For Cranford to have his support in accepting the invitation to come to the event means an awful lot to Cranford, and to the Hawke's Bay Wine Auction committee."

It will be the 25th auction in a series sparked by Cranford Hospice patron and wine
industry notable John Buck, which has so far raised $2.5 million for the hospice through the years.

The unique line-up of wine lots would be complemented by an equally unique piece of artwork specially created for the event by Gavin Chilcott.

Art has been the focal point since Tuesday when the five-day Wildflower Sculpture Exhibition opened.

This year, the biennial event features the artworks of about 75 artists from all over the country - set within the picturesque gardens of Round Pond off Rosser Rd.

Floral art sits alongside sculptures in metal, glass and ceramics, which visitors can admire and buy.

Yesterday there were about 680 people who enjoyed strolling through the gardens, organiser Lizzie Russell said - an increase from the 600 they had experienced each day since opening.

Last night another 500 enjoyed the Friday Twilight Event, which was "a really special spring experience with Hawke's Bay food, and wine from Ngatarawa Wines," she said, "while a legendary Hawke's Bay band [mid-life crisis] plays".

The past four Wildflower Sculpture Exhibitions had raised about $150,000 for Cranford Hospice.

Coinciding with the auction and exhibition is another event - the 17th Hospice Holly Trail had been going incredibly well.

Co-ordinator KK Marffy said the event had grown markedly through the years, with this year's event attracting visitors from Australia, and selling out 2500 tickets.

Since opening on Thursday night with a Carols for Cranford performance at Iona College, Ms Marffy said everything had been going well with participants enjoying visiting interesting and inspiring homes within a 20-25km radius of Havelock North village.

"Two days in we're incredibly lucky, the weather has been fabulous," she said. "We've had absolutely fabulous feedback from everybody.

They've loved the variety of the homes because of the contrast between the beach homes and the ones in town. Every home is completely different from one another in terms of the floral work so its been really interesting."

The second part of the event was open to the public and all were welcome. The special fete being staged daily at picturesque Craggy Range Winery had been "incredibly busy", and everybody had seemed in great spirits.

The Hospice Holly Trail has been a $1.3 million contributor to Cranford since it was first staged 16 years ago.

Ms Marffy said, "Cranford is such a part of the Hawke's Bay community that it's a cause we don't need to sell at all.

"It means so much to everybody that everybody gets on board."