The word “breathtaking” has a reputation of being thrown about all too often when describing the natural beauty of New Zealand. But it turns out that’s because it just happens to be true. With so much to explore even choosing which island to focus on can be a challenge, so Home Beautiful is here to share the best secret destination on the North Island – Hawke’s Bay. We’ve compiled everything you need for an unforgettable weekend, plus a few shopping stops every interiors lover will enjoy.
Just an hour’s flight from Auckland, Napier is a beautiful and historic gateway to the region. As the self-proclaimed “Art Deco Capital of the World”, the city will have anyone even mildly curious about architecture buzzing with excitement. Set up home base at the historic Crown Hotel, situated between the bustling port and the charming Ahuriri precinct. The elegant Heritage Suites in the hotel’s original 1932 building are filled with charming period decorations and are a luxurious option for those who wouldn’t say no to an ensuite jacuzzi or private fireplace in their hotel room.
Affectionately known as the “Fruit Bowl of New Zealand”, Hawke’s Bay prides itself on its fresh produce. From apples to mushrooms, you’ll never find yourself disappointed by any menu’s offering or what is presented to you on a plate. And then there’s the wine. After starting your morning with a sensational breakfast at Mister D’s (all made from locally sourced fare, of course), hit the road out of Napier to hit the vineyard trails. You don’t have to drive far (less than 20 minutes, seriously) and being the country’s second largest wine-growing region, there’s bound to be a tipple or two of interest. Notable cellar doors that turn your visit into an exceptional experience include Church Road Winery and Black Barn Vineyards.
But it’s not all wine and figs (although, that does sound just fine as well). Read on to discover our must-visit Hawke’s Bay homewares shopping destinations.
Grab a quick coffee at the nearby Ujazi Cafe then start your shopping adventure in downtown Napier at Madisons, an impressive homewares store that also has an in-store floral boutique. Every corner, shelf and vignette of the original Spanish Mission loft features a carefully curated selection of goods to enhance every home. Owner and director Trish heads out across the globe twice a year to bring back an array of unique pieces you never knew you needed. Inspired by an assortment of styles, touchable natural materials – from linens and leather, to timbers and woven fibres – all come together to create a fantastical experience underneath the beautiful exposed ceiling beams and skylights. (You’ll find yourself gazing upwards just as often as looking down at the displays.)
A short drive from Napier quickly leaves you surrounded on all sides by greenery. It’s this peaceful and natural backdrop that forms the perfect environment to discover the inspired works of globally renowned designer, David Trubridge. The entire mixed-use space is filled with the impressive organic shapes of David’s pendants and furniture that all invoke the calm and beauty of some part of the natural world. “It’s important as an artist to take your experiences, like walking through a forest, and to infuse them with your own interpretation,” David says. “So there’s still some essence of where you started from but it’s got that human creativity and personality as well. It’s a mesh of those two.” The stunning timber building was also designed by David and his team with extensive eco-conscious factors in mind, and houses the studio, workshop and a showroom that is open to the public. “It’s our little place hidden away,” David says. “There’s a little community here and it’s a lovely place to be. Especially since it means we’re not tucked away in some industrial estate in a bigger city.”
Let the smells of the wild ocean steer you back towards the coast and to the sleepy little village of Te Awanga. Here you’ll find what was once an immense mechanic’s shed is now the cavern of French wonders, So Vintage. Husband and wife owners, Mehdi and Korreen, have filled the store to bursting with original French-industrial furniture and delightfully unique accoutrements. Every single item is handpicked by the couple on buying trips in Europe (obviously, mostly in France) before being brought back to inject more than a touch of French brocante to their little pocket of Hawke’s Bay. “There’s something about the raw and genuine pieces that really appeals to us,” Korreen says. “We know what we like and I think it’s important to stay true to that” she adds. “The history or the story behind each piece sticks with you more if you love it yourself.”
For more Hawke's Bay shopping inspo and to find out what we got up to on our recent trip to New Zealand pick up our August issue on sale now.
The journalist and photographer travelled to Hawke’s Bay courtesy of Jetstar Airways. Jetstar Airways flies Auckland to Napier 27 times a week. One-way lead-in fares start from $49 NZD* To book, visit Jetstar.com.
*One-way, checked baggage not included. Selected travel dates and condition apply.