Two experts in luxury accommodation share their favourite hometown spots.

Hawke's Bay tips from James McMenamin, Assistant Lodge Manager, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Where are you favourite places to dine in Hawke's Bay?

For a relaxing lunch, I love Puketapu Hotel. It is great for all ages and especially after a bike ride from Taradale along the Tūtaekurī River. Excellent pub food served in the dining room or public bar (I prefer to sit in the covered outdoor area of the public bar with our beagles), and real value for money. The team there are efficient and communicative, even when it is very busy during weekend lunches.

For dinners, we like Piku Izakaya Japanese Restaurant & Cocktail Bar – delicious food and a great range of beverages in a funky environment. We love stopping by and enjoying sashimi and a cheeky Asahi too.

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James McMenamin is assistant lodge manager at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Photo / Supplied
James McMenamin is assistant lodge manager at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Photo / Supplied

Where is your favourite local beach?

Mahia is a favourite for my family and I. We love the long, sandy beach and sleepy feel of the area. It is pure magic watching the sun go down across Hawke's Bay while sitting on the beach. We always camp just across the road at the Mahia Holiday Park and enjoy walking up the bluff to Mokotahi lookout in the mornings.

What is your go-to walkway when you want to get outdoors?

Our go-to walkway is always the Pakowhai Regional Park – known to the locals as The Dog Park – where our beagles can run free. It has 2km of trails on 19 hectares of land with stunning plantings of both native and exotic trees. An incredibly beautiful place to be in Spring and Autumn.

Outside of that, I love the wildflower walk at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. It takes you through beautiful countryside and offers incredible views back towards Napier and over the Cape Kidnappers peninsula.

The coastline and beaches around Hawke's Bay are simply breath-taking. Photo / Supplied
The coastline and beaches around Hawke's Bay are simply breath-taking. Photo / Supplied

Favourite winery/cellar doors?

The Urban winery, Ahuriri. Tony Bish's chardonnay prowess is legendary. Great live music on weekends and vinyl spins on the turntable other times. There's a great variety of wine by the glass from some of Hawke's Bay's best boutique producers – all at very reasonable prices. Nearby is Vetro foods, for all your European epicurean needs, and there is nothing like a stroll around the waterfront area afterwards.

And Clearview Estate – Tim Turvey is a local icon and the food here is great. It also has a petanque court and children's play area. Sitting under the vines, you can picture yourself in Tuscany or Bordeaux…

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Favourite shop/boutique seller?

The sweet shop at Birdwoods Gallery. While Birdwoods has become a popular destination as a cafe, the lolly shop outside is filled with all the sweets I remember from childhood. When we go in there I am filled with childhood memories of sneaking down to the corner dairy to spend my weekly 20c of pocket money.

What do you think is the best the hidden gem/underrated destination that your region has to offer?

Maraetotora – the waterfall is particularly beautiful and cascades year round as it is spring-fed and just down the road is Mohi bush, a wonderful spot to take children for a walk through stunning native bush.

How would you describe the personality of your region?

Vivacious and playful.

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Tips for Queenstown from Benedikt Bouillon, Lodge Manager, Matakauri Lodge

Where are you favourite places to dine in Queenstown?

Lunch at Akarua Winery. Who doesn't like a leisurely lunch with some of the best wine in New Zealand? I recommend sharing the braised lamb shoulder and a bottle of pinot noir as a group.

Benedikt Bouillon is the lodge manager of Matakauri Lodge. Photo / Supplied
Benedikt Bouillon is the lodge manager of Matakauri Lodge. Photo / Supplied

Where is your favourite local outdoors location?

Stroll around the botanical gardens at the Queenstown Bay Beach while watching the sun setting behind the dramatic mountain ranges of Central Otago. If not this, then any of the walkways around Lake Wakatipu that can be accessed from Matakauri Lodge. It is wonderful to have these incredible walkways and stunning views on our doorstep.

What is your go-to walkway when you want to get outdoors?

Moke Lake is a stunning mountain lake and the loop walkway takes you all the way around it. On a calm day you get beautiful reflections of the mountains.

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Favourite winery/cellar doors?

We loved Wet Jacket Winery. Located in an old woolshed, the wines at this boutique winery are produced by Central Otago legend Greg Hay. It comes as no surprise that they will be some of the best wines you will try in New Zealand.

There are many beautiful walks around Lake Wakatipu. Photo / Supplied
There are many beautiful walks around Lake Wakatipu. Photo / Supplied

Favourite shop/boutique seller?

Te Huia has a shop in Queenstown and one in Arrowtown. They sell everything Merino. I would recommend going here if you are looking to buy clothing that will last a lifetime.

What do you think is the best hidden gem/underrated destination that your region has to offer?

Doubtful Sound. While the masses get drawn towards Milford Sound, I personally prefer the much larger but emptier beauty of Doubtful Sound.

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How would you describe the personality of your region?

Dramatic. Rugged. Beautiful.