Tomorrow, the sixth Hawke's Bay Arts Festival kicks off. The programme features circus, opera, burlesque, theatre, arts trails, comedy and much, much more. This year's festival is 100 per cent homegrown of course, and it is a treat.
There are readers and writers (including Witi Ihimaera and Annabel Langbein), Ria Hall, ATC's Black Lover, country music singer Tami Neilson, Bic Runga and Dunedin band Soaked Oats. The festival is being held at venues across Napier and Hastings.
Where to eat in Napier
If you're waking up in Napier, head to Ajuna Cafe for breakfast. Just a street back from the beach and close to everything, Ajuna serves breakfast and brunch classics in a lovely corner site with great people-watching opportunities.
At Napier's Central Fire Station Bistro, diners can sit in an historic building while they dine on an ever-evolving menu of simplicity, done well. Owned by a husband-and-wife team from New Zealand and Argentina, the bistro serves European food with local produce, and of course the best of the independent wine producers from the Hawke's Bay region.
In Hastings, the Hawke's Bay weekend farmers' market at Waikoko Gardens at the A&P Showgrounds is a must. This is one of the oldest farmers' markets in the country and you'll find buskers, producers and families shopping on any given Sunday.
Just outside Hastings you'll find Rush Munro, the legendary ice creamery. They've been making icecream here since 1926, and serving among the walled rose gardens and fish ponds behind the storefront.
Where to drink in Napier
Napier's Urban Winery (in the well-known National Tobacco Company building) is home to Tony Bish Wines, as well as a gorgeous bar and regular events such as live music, wine tastings and quizzes. Check out their Facebook page for regular updates on what's coming up.
In Hastings, you'll want to try some wines that came from within the Bridge Pa Triangle. This area is known as a premium grape-growing spot (it even has its own wine festival). Within the triangle you'll find Alpha Domus, Abbey Cellars, Oak Estate and others. Take yourself around or join a bike tour with On Yer Bike.
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Where to sleep in Napier
Napier's Art Deco Masonic Hotel just won't quit. Felled three times (twice by fire and once by earthquake), this historic hotel is still the place to stay when you're in town. You can choose from any number of character-filled rooms, or select your suite by its famous past guest (the Queen and Mark Twain included). Every room is different, there's a wide shared balcony to catch the sea breeze, and a great restaurant and bar below.
The Manse is a small working farm and guests are hosted in the historic home on the property. There is a serious foodie focus here - co-owner Gary has worked in restaurants around Europe and serves up some serious feasts. Expect multiple courses for breakfast - choose what you like and Gary will whip it up - and dinner, all made from local produce. The property is close to both Bridge Pa and Gimblett Gravels - two famous wine areas - so expect some very local drops.