No longer a sleepy village, Hawke's Bay's Havelock North is a sought-after shopping and dining destination surrounded by vineyards under big blue-sky days.
Here are five restaurants for something a little bit special...
1. Pipi Cafe
This eclectic pink pizza and pasta restaurant is packed to the rafters with locals and visitors sitting at higgledy-piggledy tables with candles, grabbing their own drinks from the fridge and being billed according to the bottles on the table.
It's about as authentic an Italian experience as you'll get this side of the equator. It's busy and noisy and I could sit here all night.
This Mexican restaurant is another busy hangout. Where everyone comes from, I have no idea! Put your name down for a table and go have a drink, or squeeze into the bar space down the back. They specialise in yummy small plates. Try the ribs, fresh ceviche and pulled pork tacos, washed down with a jug of margarita.
Another restaurant that specialises in small plates, I can wholeheartedly recommend the lamb with Israeli couscous on warm pita bread. On a sunny afternoon, plonk yourself on their outdoor beanbags and order an antipasto platter, or enter the velvet curtains on a chilly evening and enjoy a local wine with friends.
I was here for a birthday dinner for 21 people the other day and the place was humming. On a summer's day, sit under the vines outside or in the two-level restaurant. The pork belly was amazing. Art on a plate, with seasonal veges designed by multiple award-winning chef Francky Godinho.
5. The Peak
After several reincarnations, this restaurant halfway up Te Mata Peak is worth a visit. Sweeping views across Hawke's Bay, past Napier and as far as the Mahia Peninsula on a clear day make it the perfect spot for lunch or afternoon tea in the winter sun. It is also open for dinner five nights a week.
For more from Megan see bloggeratlarge.com.