Exceptional wine and deep pockets meant this year's Hawke's Bay Wine Auction exceeded expectations.

The 26th annual auction, at the Hawke's Bay Opera House Plaza, raised a total of $202,000 for Cranford Hospice yesterday.

More than 640 wine lovers from around New Zealand gathered for a tasting of auction lot wines before the event officially started with the chance to bid on fine wine, experiences and an artwork for a good cause.

Read more: Great lots expected at wine auction for hospice


Project organiser Annabel Tapley-Smith said the turnout of people wanting to help the hospice and bid on unique blends was wonderful.

"We hoped we could achieve another record result as we knew this year there were some exceptional wine experiences up for auction.

"What we didn't anticipate was the overwhelming generosity from the guests at the event.

"All previous records were blown away as $202,000 was raised, which will go directly to Cranford Hospice and we are delighted to be Cranford Hospice's largest annual private contributor."

The stand-out was Lot 44 - House of Travel and The Reef House including accommodation in Vanuatu for 12, flights for two and 36L of Hawke's Bay Event wine - which saw the hammer go down at $14,300.

Renowned Hawke's Bay sculptor Ben Pearce's "Aspect 1" Corten steel work raised $11,000 for the hospice.

The location of the event at the Hawke's Bay Opera House Plaza and the adjoining marquee on Hastings St, continued to ensure the event's success allowing guests to flow between the wine-tasting areas and the auction platform with ease, she said.

Cranford Hospice chief executive Janice Byford-Jones said was thrilled so many fantastic people had come together for the event.

"Once again we were overwhelmed by the support from Hawke's Bay's wonderful community of winegrowers, business sponsors and not least the individuals and syndicates from all over New Zealand who came, bid and helped raise the $202,000.

"On behalf of everyone at Cranford we are so grateful to all involved in the auction for helping fund our services."

Some of the money raised this year will be used to employ another medical officer and a couple of nurses.

Cranford Hospice marketing and fundraising manager Nathalie van Dort said this event would help cover some of the costs in running the much needed hospice in Hawke's Bay.

It costs $6.2m a year to run and $3.4m is provided by the Hawke's Bay District Health Board. A further $2.8m is then fundraised for each year equating to about $7700 a day, she said.

"We're very fortunate to have an event like this and very grateful to everybody."

Babich Wines Hawke's Bay regional vineyards manager Tony Smith, who was representing his company at the auction, said the event now had a special personal significance as his father spent the last few weeks of his life at Cranford Hospice in May this year.

"It makes me feel a little bit honoured to be supporting Cranford House at the auction.

"They're a terrific bunch of people and a terrific organisation.

"The people are extremely generous in their empathy towards what families and people are going through."

His father, Ron Smith, was looked after with the utmost care and family members were able to spend as much time with him as they wanted, Mr Smith said.

"They looked after him so well.

"We could stay if we wanted to, we could come and go as we wanted to.

"They just made the whole process a bit more bearable."

For example, few days before his father died Mr Smith and his siblings were by his bedside talking to him and a staff member wheeled in a trolley of drinks for them.

"It was a really nice touch."

Last year a total of $180,000 was raised for Cranford Hospice.

The auction of 44 lots was run by Harcourts New Zealand chief executive Chris Kennedy.