South of Napier and Hastings you'll find the Central Hawke's Bay District, home to bucolic landscapes, historic homesteads, long stretches of coastline, weekend markets, museums and great mountain-biking.
Visit Oruawharo in Tākapau for high tea and a tour of the sprawling 150-year-old homestead. Hosts Peter and Dianne Harris have been painstakingly restoring the historic home for 20 years, having saved it from demolition in 2000 after 30 years’ neglect. Today, the homestead and on-site chapel are popular for weddings and events. Visitors are also welcome to explore the outbuildings and gardens. Make sure you ask Peter to show you the before and after photos of the restoration on his iPad to grasp the sheer scale of their project.
2. Pōrangahau Beach
Pōrangahau, or Te Paerahi Beach is a wild and beautiful stretch of coastline. Visit for an invigorating beach walk rather than a sunbathing session.
You may see hardy locals going for a dip, but with wild winds making wilder waves, swimming is best left to the brave.
There’s something about fresh, salty air that always seems to work up an appetite, so make sure you stop in at Flotsam and Jetsam in Pōrangahau village for coffee and homemade treats, or across the road the Duke of Edinburgh pub for a pint and some post-beach fish and chips on your way home.
Pōrangahau’s other claim to fame is that it’s home to the hill with the longest place name in the world: Taumatawhakatangihangakōauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupōkaiwhenuakitānatahu.
3. Rānui Farm Park
Rānui Farm Park, about 20 minutes south of Waipukurau, is a mountain bike enthusiast’s dream, with over 30km of trails ranging from beginner to advanced level. The park is located on a working farm, so the tracks are open on weekends only. On the first Sunday of each month, check out the ‘Sunday Fun Day,’ where you can not only ride the mountain bike trails, but have a go at archery, paintball, the 70 metre water slide or the giant flying fox.
4. CHB Settlers Museum
In the historic Bank of New Zealand building on Waipawa’s main street, you’ll find the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum. Displays showcase the fascinating local history of the area, which, in 2017, is celebrating 150 years since it was first settled, making Waipukurau and Waipawa some of the oldest inland towns in New Zealand.
5. Ōtāne Markets
Sundays are market days in Ōtāne. From 9am – 1pm pop in to visit the bustling local market where you can stock up on fresh produce, plants, arts and crafts and delicious eats.
Make sure you leave room for a coffee from McCauley's cafe in the beautiful art deco building that used to house the public library.
Don't know about you, but our Sunday drives definitely require caffeine stops. Struck gold in the tiny village of Otane where this cafe (former public library building) serves coffees made with "raw" milk. T'was a first for me. Super creamy. #FlamboyantShadows #Otane #OtanePublicLibrary #CentralHawkesBay #SpanishMissionary #ArtDeco #RawMilk