Gemma Adams and Nathan Speeden

Gemma and Nathan with their kids at Blackbird Goods.

We decided to migrate South mainly as an entry into the housing market, plus for a change of scenery from the big smoke of Tāmaki Makaurau. Nathan had spent his formative years in the glorious Hawke’s Bay (Gem hails from the far North), and we thought we could head back any time we like. But here we are eight years, three renovations, three kids and a business later, and we still think it is the best move we have ever made.

Hawke’s Bay knows how to put it on. Hot summers, bright blue winters and lush springs... but she comes into her own in autumn. The leaves turn, the air is crisp and fresh and the sun is still warm. It is magic. There is nothing like a hill climb or beach picnic on those days, sampling some of the region's finest things to eat, see and do.

Eat and Drink Around the Bay

Start the day right with a Ya Bon pastry and coffee at Cupple, chuck the kids and dog in the car and head to Haumoana for a beach comb. We will fill our pockets with taonga, followed by a platter lunch and a glass of Wildsong 2021 Rosè at Te Awanga Estate with friends. Then, we might burn off some energy with a riverside walk and stop in at Brave Brewing Co. on the way home. So basically, just eat, drink and walk our way around the Bay.

Shop the Heretaunga Precinct

Our store, Blackbird Goods, is surrounded by wonderful treasures in our little Heretaunga Street precinct. Anything from french vintage pieces from So Vintage to handmade goodies at Coco & Co. You'll also find The Little Red Bookshop, La Petite's artisan chocolate shop and Hastings Distillers (go for a bottle of L'Opera).

Throw on Your Adventure Hat

There are incredible bike trails all over the region. Score an adrenaline rush soaring down the side of Te-Mata-o-Rongokako, or sip your way around the region's wineries on e-bikes from Coastal Wine Cycles. But if a competitive afternoon is more your style, Outfoxed has everything from archery to knife throwing and clay bird shooting.

Uncover the Wonder of Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak Park is full of amazing walks for all different levels. You get to take in the valley, redwoods and spectacular natives on your way, plus meet little manu pals. Usually, we hit the Pīwakawaka track with the kids and dog in tow—it's a perfect jaunt for little legs. An added bonus is a flat white from Peak House at the end.

Glamp Under the Stars

We have had our sights on a little child-free getaway at Clifton Glamping for a while. Simple but luxurious; remote, river swims and an outdoor bath under the sky. What more would you want? En-route, swing past Sazio and pick up fresh pappardelle, ragu and pecorino for an easy and delicious dinner.

Sample International Flavours

Harvest Deli and Teresa Cocktail Bar are the new kids on the block in Napier. By day, it is a traditional Italian salumeria serving deli-style food, and by night their futurist-style bar serves cocktails. But if brunch or lunch is more your style, Bayside Bagels is next-level delicious. Go for their half naughty, half lox—you won't look back.

Don't Miss the National Aquarium

We could spend all day looking around the National Aquarium of New Zealand; there is so much fun stuff to see. The kids love learning all the facts and spotting new creatures, but we usually head straight to catch feeding time with the kororā cuties. Then we'll check out the Kiwi, Kūwharuwharu and Tuatara, Rocky Shore and Coral Reef, and spend time travelling on the conveyor belt under the Oceanarium.

Meet Artisans at the Market

Most Sundays, you'll find us at the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Markets. It's such a great way to buy and try fresh produce and local goodies. Danny's Pasta is a regular, along with crackers and bread from OMG Goodness, plus broth and cashew cheese from Hapī Organic (perfectly paired with the pasta). On the street food front, it is always a toss-up between The Dosa Project, a mussel fritter from Wichman's Kitchen or tacos from Hermana. Some weeks, we just have to buy one of each!

Get Among Nature

We really can't go past nature as a creative reset. Our kids are manu mad, so they are always keen to visit Te Kauwae-a-Māui and see the Tākapu (Gannet) colony with Gannet Beach Adventures. Although, I don't know if it's the birds or the tractor ride that has the most appeal. We'll also head to Waimarama Beach, Maraetotara Falls, or Pourerere Beach at this time of year. With the golden hues, poetic light and falling leaves, we are refreshed and inspired.

Explore with Your Tamariki

On afternoons when the kids are extra tired, we drive around looking for interesting architecture. Luckily the Bay is full of it—including our personal favourite, modern Māori architecture by John Scott. If we are feeling a little more interactive, we head to Farmyard Zoo over in Haumoana. We feed all the kararehe (animals) and ride on the train (or, if we're lucky, a pony!). If it's raining, but kids are high energy, Velocity Entertainment will leave you with some very tired and happy tamariki.