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Exploring New Zealand


Hastings Area Guide


Selini Estates Vineyard and Winery,
Stortford Lodge. © Naturespic.com
Hastings is the agricultural service centre for the Hawke's Bay region and sister city to Napier, 20 kilometres away. Make the most of the rich agricultural pickings using the Food Trail leaflet from the Visitor Centre, which will guide you to the region’s best tree-ripened fruit, organic coffee, and traditionally-brewed beer. Visit Rush Munro's Ice Cream Gardens in Heretaunga Street West for a taste of the local ice-cream, made in the bay since 1926.

Hastings is a good base for exploring the local vineyards, many of which have their own restaurants. Try Vidal Estate and its acclaimed restaurant in St Aubyn Street East, which is open for lunch and dinner, and coffee and snacks during the day.

For a look at the city’s architectural gems, pick up the Heritage of Hastings walk leaflet from the Visitor Centre. Hastings, like Napier, was hit by a severe earthquake in 1931, which necessitated the rebuilding of much of the inner city at a time when the Art Deco and Spanish Mission styles were in vogue. Highlights include the Westerman's Building in Heretaunga Street East dating from 1932, now the home of the Visitor Centre, and the Hawke's Bay Opera House, designed by Henri Eli White in 1915, a richly ornamented, baroque interpretation of the Spanish Mission style.

If you are travelling with children, you'll want to spend a day at the huge aquatic theme park Splash Planet in Grove Road, which is open from September to April. The park has plenty to keep children of any age entertained with many land-based attractions, including a miniature railway, a pirate ship, a maze, a mini golf course, and jungle jeeps, as well as the water slides and swimming pools.

The Hawke's Bay Showgrounds plays host to a number of interesting events during the year, including the annual Agricultural and Pastoral Show over the long Labour Day weekend (late October). The massive show is a great place to get a rural New Zealand experience. Watch sheep shearing and sheepdog handling competitions, horses demonstrating their show jumping prowess, and see the latest in farm machinery. In December and early January, the Fiesta of Lights is held at the Waikoko Gardens at the Showgrounds, when thousands of twinkling lights envelop the lakeside walkways. The Showgrounds also holds the Farmers' Market on Sunday mornings.