Hawke's Bay's Unique Stays
From luxurious to glamping, the Viva team discovers exciting accommodation in a recent trip to Hawke’s Bay
When the Viva team travelled to Hawke’s Bay we booked into the penthouse at The Dome. Across the street from Napier’s Beach Domain waterfront park, on the top floors of the landmark 1935 Art Deco Centre, it was the perfect central location from which to explore.
From the minute you walk through the doors into the foyer, there is a sense of heritage emanating from the dark wood staircase and marble and art deco details.
You can’t help but imagine glamour of the Thirties, with people dressed for a night out in all their elegant finery.
With just five luxurious apartments and studios to choose from, the vibe is one of exclusivity and discretion. We were warmly greeted by Larisa, who manages the apartments. She is a great source of local information and pointed out all The Dome had to offer — including the roof deck hot tub and plunge pool — and the complimentary bottle of champagne in the fridge to celebrate our arrival.
From the elegant living area, to the circular dining room, the generous bedrooms with king size beds and the comfy bathrobes in the ensuites, the plush carpets, furnishings by Philippe Starke, Bose soundsystems, artworks from a selection of New Zealand artists (including, suprisingly, a picture of John Key in fancy dress at a party at The Dome) and views out over the bay and across the city, this was the perfect base to come home to after a busy day of shoots and interviews.
With a self-contained kitchen, it means if you’ve stocked up at the Farmer’s Market and local vineyards you can make yourselves at home or dine alfresco on the spacious rooftop balconies and toast the delights of the region. The Dome is just a stone’s throw from some of Napier’s best cafes, bars and restaurants — think Hapi, Bistronomy, Hunger Monger and Mister D — vintage stores and galleries, making it the perfect place from which to walk and explore. — Babiche Martens.
The Dome, 101 Marine Parade, Napier. Visit Thedome.co.nz
There’s nothing like sleeping under canvas, especially when you are in a luxurious bed with beautiful linen and views over the beautiful Maraetotara River. For those wanting to really get away from it all, this set up on the historic Clifton Station is the place to base yourself.
462 Clifton Rd, Clifton, Hawke’s Bay, visit Cliftonglamping.co.nz
Summerlee, in the tiny coastal town of Te Awanga and once the original homestead of Cape Kidnappers’ farm, is one of the most luxurious properties available to rent in Hawke’s Bay. The 100-year-old homestead is part of the Blackbarn retreats portfolio, sleeps up to 12 people, and is right on the doorstep of the world-renowned Cape Kidnappers’ golf course.
404 Clifton Rd, Te Awanga. Visit Blackbarn.com
It takes some getting to Millar Road, but that’s the point. You turn off the road between Napier and Hastings then drive toward the coast, where a little jink through farmland gets you to a cluster of cottages on a hill with views over a vineyard and out towards the sea. This is the Hawke’s Bay you see in paintings, photographs and in Instagram posts from those annoying friends who’ve sold up in Auckland and become provincial millionaires. This is the sort of view that makes you turn to your partner and say “what if we did it too?”.
Gregory Collinge is a Hawke’s Bay boy who hasreturned home from London after a fruitful career in banking. Now his focus is on turning his end of Millar Road into an organic, hyperlocal experience for visitors. Those vines you can see from your accommodation are sauvignon blanc and pinot gris, but the wine they create probably tastes unlike anything you’ve tried before.
Collinge’s Supernatural wines makes a feature not just of the grape flesh but of the skins and yeasts that come with the fruit. His white wines have a texture and savouriness you’d normally associate with a red wine. One of them, the Super-Nat is cloudy, like a ginger beer, and tastes closer to a cider or beer than what you imagine from a wine.
It feels very special to drink these wines on the land they were produced, though before you start picturing a rustic picnic I should tell you about the swimming pool, which has its own wine bar and must be one of the most luxurious places in the Bay to enjoy hot February weather. In cooler months you can retreat to a comfy chair in front of big north facing windows, and light a fire if you need to. The bigger Haumoana house easily has enough room for two couples with children, and the only thing you’re likely to fight over is rights to the turntable — a cold bottle of sauv and Fleetwood Mac on vinyl is a perfect way to end a day of exploring in the Bay.
Collinge has big plans, continuing to improve the accommodation so guests can enjoy a sophisticated, on-brand experience while connecting to the natural features of the land, which changes colour according to the season. Millar Road had a busy winter and already has a number of weddings booked for summer. When the wildflowers planted between the vines burst into bloom, it’s hard to imagine there’d be a more romantic place in the world to get hitched. — Jesse Mulligan.
83 Millar Rd, Hastings. Visit Millarroad.co.nz
Farmers and environmentalists are usually pitched in opposition to each other, particularly in Hawke’s Bay, where recent high-profile court cases have reinforced the view that rural development can only be bad news for waterways, wildlife and climate change.
But not all farmers (#notallfarmers) are so easily categorised. On a recent trip to Hawke’s Bay I took the kids to visit Mangarara Family Farm, where old-school farmers Greg and Rachel Hart are adopting a new approach to the land, part of an international movement called “regenerative agriculture”.
The Harts point to the ecological balance that existed before humans arrived in New Zealand, and look to find it again in 2017. Along with feel-good principles like “respect for animals” and “equality among stakeholders” there is a strong technical approach. Cattle are grazed in motion, encouraging them to eat and keep moving, thereby trampling the long grass and trapping carbon back into the soil. The farm is heavily planted with native trees to encourage biodiversity — the fungal, insect and bacterial life a fundamental if invisible part of the eco-balance story.
It’s a decent-sized farm, but the Harts are keen to spread their work beyond the boundary fence. They have a subscription meat pack service, so people in the city can form a relationship with the people who produced their food — this traceability and accountability are a key part of the regenerative model. You can stay on the farm too, in eco-accommodation overlooking a lake.My kids happily collected eggs, patted sheep and fed the pigs.
The Harts encourage visitors to feel ownership in their farm, and the spirit of generosity is contagious. I asked whether I could help in some way and they’ve happily let me organise pest trapping for the 20 hectares of native bush. I’ve organised funding through Air New Zealand and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, and in February will fly back with the Air NZ volunteer Green Team to install rat and stoat traps.
The aim is that, predator-free, the native bush will thrive with biodiversity and quickly become something like what was there 1000 years ago.
Meanwhile, the Harts encourage visitors to Hawke’s Bay to drop in, walk through the bush, stay a night or attend one of the frequent food or music events they put on. With exaggerated talks of an urban/rural divide, Mangarara is a great example of how a farm not just connect to its community, but be central to it. Drop in for a glimpse of what New Zealand could become. — Jesse Mulligan.
98 Mangarara Rd, RD2, Otane, Hawke’s Bay. VIsit Mangarara.co.nz
• Visit Hawkesbaynz.com for more accommodation ideas in Hawke's Bay