Whimsical Spring Looks in Hawke's Bay

Model Ruby Higgins returns to her Hawke's Bay hometown and meets some of its culinary characters, sampling flavours from the region in the season’s most whimsical looks

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A homage to Nicholas and Nicoletta, the founders of Napier’s Greek National Cafe who migrated from the Greek island of Ithaca in the 1920s.

The restaurant was taken over by their sons Alec and Bill in the 1960s (they both retired in 2015), and re-opened in May, under the watchful eye of Alec’s daughter Debbie, her husband Kim, cousin Lance and chef Glen Verner (pictured).

Try their authentic Greek cuisine — including pickled chicken, stuffed tomatoes, and its fragrant lamb kleftiko — and enjoy the retro interior restored to its 60s glory days.

Ruby wears a Prada cardigan $6620. Lonely pants $380. Vintage clip on earrings, $149, from Homage.

Picture / Babiche Martens.

Ruby gets lost in among sprawling fields of beautiful Rape flowers, otherwise known as Brassica Napus, cultivated for its oil-rich seeds.

MM6 Maison Margiela T-shirt dress, $520, from The Shelter. Daninijo velvet choker, about $68.

Picture / Babiche Martens

The bustling kitchen at Milk & Honey, in the picturesque seaside village of Ahuriri, is the hub for one of the area's top places to dine. Chef Hayden Esau, who trained in London with international chef Peter Gordon, is influenced by Asian, South American, North Africa and Europe cuisine, whilst utilising the region's fresh produce.

The sleek new fit-out designed by co-owner Hannah Feltham has given the space a fresh update, and along with husband ad co-owner Sean Burns, both are passionate about quality food, coffee, wine and beer. Their other eateries, Pizza Pazzi and Hatch (for delicious dumplings), are conveniently located next door.

Ruby wears a Maggie Marilyn shirt, $895, from The Shelter. Lonely embroidered jeans $375. Mi Piaci heels $240.

Picture / Babiche Martens

As one of the oldest fruits eaten by humans, figs are a symbol of fertility, peace and prosperity, and the region's Mediterranean-type climate is ideal for growing the luscious fruit.

Te Mata Figs in Havelock North is a delightful figgery growing 23 fresh, award-winning varieties, with owners Helen Walker and Murray Douglas using them to create fig icecream, preserves, salami di fichi (fig and almond rolls) and bread.

Ruby wears a Georgia Alice dress $669. Deadly Ponies silk scarf $230. Meadowlark padlock necklace, from $495.

Picture / Babiche Martens

Ruby snacks on one of Steve Toohey's popular American-style doughnuts from the Donut Robot at 89 Tennyson St, Napier. Ruby wears a Lonely dress $540. Mi Piaci shoes $240.

Picture / Babiche Martens

You can't visit Hawke's Bay without sampling some of its finest produce, particularly its fresh citrus varieties.

Stock up on fresh lemons from the area’s nurseries oar head to the popular farmers' market at the Showgrounds each Sunday for freshly squeezed lemonade and homemade marmalade.

Ruby wears a Zambesi dress $780.

Picture / Babiche Martens

With 20,000 hives across the country, and about 6000 in Hawke's Bay, Arataki Honey has some of the most picturesque locations in the country including this one which looks on to majestic Te Mata Peak, referred to by locals as the Sleeping Giant.

Managed by original members of the family business, Arataki Honey has been a champion for local businesses and beekeeping practices — the bees a valuable part of the horticulture and viticulture industry in the area.

Here, beekeeper Allan McDonald examines one of the hives on a typically perfect day in the region.

Ruby wears a Elle & Riley cashmere jumper $340. Charmaine Reveley dress $439. Zambesi trench coat $835. Adam Selman x Le Specs sunglasses $130. Comme des Garcons Play x Converse sneakers, $260, from Fabric.

Picture / Babiche Martens

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