Getting to Havelock North
The north easterly drive from Wellington to Havelock North took approx. four hours. We broke the journey up in Greytown in the Wairarapa. At an hour’s drive from Wellington it’s a popular weekend escape with antique shops and restaurants. We had a good lunch at the Main Street Deli and were lured into the Lolly Jar for dessert by its endless jars of pic’n’mix.
What a gorgeous area the Hawkes Bay region is. A friend had recommended we stay in Havelock North, a sweet little town filled with vineyards, orchards and an upmarket shopping parade with artisan bakers, restaurants and boutiques. We spent a wonderful few days here unwinding and taking in the fresh air (we don’t get much of that in Hong Kong)
Where did we stay?
I chose the Cottages on St Andrews for several reasons; there were farm animals on site, a kids playground and a pool.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite hot enough for us to swim but it was great to stay in a ‘cottage’ right next to the kids playground. Di has 5 cottages available and we were in No 2.
The cottages are more like bungalows and ours was lovely and spacious with a master bedroom at one end and twin bedroom at the other, divided in the middle with a lounge, kitchen/diner and bathroom. We loved the flexibility of eating breakfast at ours and having a picnic dinner outside.
What did we do?
- Have a stroll around the very small town centre. The Visitor Information hut is extremely useful and filled with leaflets, maps etc and lovely staff who’ll clue you in on what to do.
- The Arataki Honey Visitor Center is a free museum which has displays on how bees make honey. There’s a great little activity station for the kids including bee dressing up outfits! I loved the honey tasting – who knew there were so many versions available. Needless to say I ended up buying lots of pots of honey to bring back to Hong Kong (am a sucker for a gift shop).
- In Hawkes Bay, you are spoiled for choice with wineries. We went for one of the more family friendly options, the Clearview Estate winery in Te Awanga. This is a stunning spot with vines to your left and the sparkling sea to your right. Best of all is a kids playground leaving the adults to their own playground of the tasting room…
- The Hawkes Bay Farmyard Zoo is brilliant, the exact kind of zoo young kids enjoy e.g. feeding and petting animals, pony rides and a playground. My two year old enjoyed her first pony ride or older kids can opt for horse trekking (both at extra cost).
- Take your pick from any number of beach from Waimarama to Ocean Beach. We found our own little secluded spot near the Clearview winery although my girls were a bit bemused by the lack of golden sand and the plentiful pebbles.
- We loved strawberry picking at The Strawberry Patch. Not only did we leave with a huge bag of cheap, delicious strawberries, they also sell the most delicious homemade strawberry icecreams.
Where did we eat?
- We ate both nights back at the cottage. On the first night, a rather average fish’n’chips from a takeaway joint in town and the second night with a picnic with goodies bought from the local supermarket.
- Ya Bon in Havelock North has delicious coffees and pastries – a great breakfast spot (try their brown sugar brioche)
- Amazing coffee at Bay Espresso (pick one up on your drive to Napier)