Lake Taupo & Napier, New Zealand
After Hannah’s dramatic episode while driving from Piha Beach back to Auckland, we decided to leave a day early and split our drive into 2 days. Initially we planned to drive from Auckland to Napier (about 5 hours) but since we had no idea how Hannah would fare, we made the last minute choice to stop over in Lake Taupo for a night. It took us longer to pack up and leave the apartment than planned so we ended up sitting in afternoon traffic on our way out of the city. Once we hit the countryside all was well. We passed through a lot of farmland, some hilly terrain and a few cute small towns before arriving in the evening. We witnessed a beautiful sunset over some hills shortly before getting to our hotel for the evening. Since it was fall, the town was pretty dead and we easily got a room at a well rated hotel and table at a cute restaurant. After a late meal we settled in for the evening.
The next morning we got up, packed the car and headed down to the main area of town for breakfast. We decided on something quick and ate while walking along the lakefront. After we spent some time wandering the town streets and finding nothing terribly interesting. There was supposed to be a market somewhere just outside the main area, but we decided to head out in time for Hannah’s morning nap. The drive to Napier was another pleasant one, but much less inhabited. There were long stretches of road with no signs of life, except for sheep, cows and the occasional farm truck. I think we drove almost 100 km without passing a fuel station. Driving into the Hawke’s Bay region was absolutely beautiful. You come through mountains and more farmland until you start seeing orchards and wineries popping up alongside the highway. Eventually the bay comes into view and it is gorgeous. Thankfully, Hannah did wonderfully on the drive both days! She was quiet (we assume sleeping) for 2+ hours each time and only started getting fussy in the last 20 minutes or so.
We arrived in Napier and checked into our hotel which was very cute! Then we did some exploring around the area most importantly walking down to the beach. Hannah got a nap in our Boba carrier while C and I enjoyed the breeze coming off the ocean and the beautiful surroundings. After she woke up we treated ourselves to an ice cream cone and went back to the hotel to research activities. Since it was a sunny day we decided to head back to the beach later that afternoon and see what Hannah thought of the sand and water. Well, she enjoyed putting her feet in the sand but did not like the cold water! In all fairness, it was really cold even for me! We finished the day off with some wine by the outdoor fire at our hotel and takeaway Indian food.
The next day was Mother’s Day so I got to choose everything – my favorite kind of day! We started with breakfast at a nearby cafe then went to the Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s Market. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was definitely impressed! We arrived just about an hour before it was scheduled to close and things were still in full swing. There were the typical vendors selling fruits, veggies, baked goods and cheeses. But there were also wines, olive oils, cider, hot foods and a juice bar. Plus there was a girl singing & playing the guitar. There were a bunch of families and couples milling around just enjoying the beautiful day and atmosphere. We picked up a cronut and a bottle of cider and spent some time listening to the musician. If we hadn’t just finished breakfast or were staying for a few more days, I probably would’ve bought some of the great looking food for offer.
We couldn’t stay long, though, because there was more planned for the day. Next up was a trip to one of the many wineries in the area. I had done a little research and found one of the best reviewed cellar doors (tasting rooms). As we were pulling into the car park, one van was pulling out and we ended up having the place to ourselves. The gentlemen who did the tasting was very nice and informative and we were able to taste some really good wines. We ended up buying a bottle of Viognier and each having a glass outside. Hannah took a snooze in the carrier and we just enjoyed the sunshine, quiet and conversation. Afterwards we loaded back up into the car and drove to a Cidery close by. There we grabbed a spot at a picnic table, got lunch and washed it down with a cider flight. We’d decided we had enough alcohol and sun for the day so went back to the hotel for some R&R. I enjoyed reading & watching the sunset from our balcony while Hannah and C each napped. And we ate the cronut from the farmer’s market which was delicious!! It was probably a good thing we only bought one!
We were only in Hawke’s Bay for 2 days but we had a marvelous time. I definitely would have liked to stay longer, explore some more and enjoy what the area had to offer. But, alas, it was time to move on to Wellington, our next, and final, destination in New Zealand.