Napier, North Island, New Zealand

From Rotorua we took our time enjoying the scenic – and sometimes snaking – drive to Napier to explore the Hawke’s Bay wine region. Read about why this area will always be a top North Island recommendation.

We Got a Bird’s Eye View with Bay Heliwork 

On a whim we decided to look into taking a helicopter tour to see the entirety of Hawke’s Bay from above, and found out about Bay Heliwork. They are a small, family-owned operation focusing mainly on agricultural aviation. They had availability and good reviews, so we booked a tour for Sunday morning. When we arrived, I was a bit nervous about the very small size of the helicopter compared to ones we’ve done before, but after politely inquiring about the pilot Kevin’s work history and safety record, I felt confident that we’d survive. We loved our 30-minute ride and enjoyed Kevin’s commentary and personal stories about the area.

We Went to Bluff Hill Lookout

We had the opportunity to meet a Napier pilot, Colin, who took us to lunch at The Boardwalk and then drove us up to Bluff Hill Lookout to get an overview of the Napier Port. Later that day, Colin arranged for John to ride a ship and talk with other Napier pilots. We enjoyed talking with Colin so much that we invited him to our Church Road Winery visit and then dinner the next night. Thank you for your hospitality!

We Stopped in at Church Road Winery

When we have a little extra time, we love to stop in at the local cellar doors to taste a few wines and meet the locals who work there. Our impromptu visit to Church Road Winery didn’t disappoint – the wines were tasty and the grounds were incredibly picturesque.

We Toured Hawke’s Bay Wineries with Grape Escape 

No trip to Hawke’s Bay would be complete without an official (read: chauffeured) winery tour, so we booked a tour with Grape Escape. We ended up being part of a 10-person group, which isn’t the best way to navigate the sometimes small tasting rooms, but we enjoyed stopping at Ash Ridge, Ngatarawa, Sileni and Craggy Range, all of which were surrounded by lush grounds. We also enjoyed meeting a few of our fellow wine enthusiasts and comparing travel notes.

John discovered Zeffer Cider

On his never-ending quest for the perfect cider, John discovered the Zeffer Cider Co. in the local grocery stores. Then we RANDOMLY passed their facility during a drive around Napier! We stopped in, only to find that the tasting room doesn’t open until next summer. But the staff was so impressed by his enthusiasm that they gave him several of the new flavors to try! We want to come back once they open for an official tour.


Oh and our AirBnb was adorable – Helen and Sam are the perfect hosts!


We enjoyed staying in Napier and exploring Hawke’s Bay!

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