Hawke's Bay winemaker Damian Fischer shares insider tips for exploring his hometown, Havelock North.

Havelock North is so special because of the village atmosphere.

It's so accessible and central, with everything you need essentially within walking distance of each other.

The first thing I would do is head to Te Mata Park and climb up to the top of Te Mata Peak. There are breath-taking 360-degree views of Hawke's Bay from the top of Te Mata Peak, which is 399m above sea level. You'll see Mt Kahurānaki, Mt Erin, the Heretaunga plain, the Ruahine and Kaweka ranges, Hastings, Napier, the Hawke's Bay itself, Māhia Peninsula and, on a good day, you can even see Mt Ruapehu.

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After that I would head back down to the village and have a coffee and a croissant at Hawthorne Coffee Roasters, followed by some fried chicken at Mexican bar and restaurant Mamacita.
The smell of coffee beans being roasted on the spot – it's like a trail leading you home. And the battered, spicy chicken, deep fried and served piping hot – what's not to like!

Did you know grape vines were first planted in the area in 1892 – 128 years ago. Another thing most visitors don't know about Havelock North is the legend of Te Mata Peak.

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Winemaker Damian Fischer at Trinity Hill Winery, Hawke's Bay. Photo / Supplied
Winemaker Damian Fischer at Trinity Hill Winery, Hawke's Bay. Photo / Supplied

A secret spot is Tainui Reserve

– no more than a five-minute drive from the centre of the village and you're in a tranquil piece of nature in the middle of suburbia. Or the

which a great place for the kids.

If you are into wine, pop in to see the wonderful Sonja and her team at the Smith & Sheth Wine Lounge for some wine tasting, tucked in behind the Porters Hotel, right in the centre of town. Havelock North is also only a 10-15 minute drive to Trinity Hill Winery, where you can taste one of New Zealand's top red wines, the Homage Syrah.

Havelock North is charming because of its location, being in the lee of Te Mata Peak, and that "village" feeling. The village is the hub and everything is spread out evenly like the spokes of a wheel. It doesn't feel too built up.