A Place in the Sun: Best Al Fresco Dining in Hastings and Havelock North

A couple dining outside a black barn on a sunny day.

Commonly referred to as the ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’, Hawke’s Bay is something of a paradise for culinary enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs alike. The region’s temperate climate lends itself to many an outside meal, and with an abundance of charming outdoor spaces on offer, al fresco dining is a concept most locals are more than just a little familiar with.

Words by: Nicole Mudgway

Photos by: Anna Briggs

From boutique winery bistros to quaint village cafes, Hastings and Havelock North offer an abundance of opportunities to enjoy delicious food while soaking up the region's natural beauty and sunshine. Al fresco dining in Hastings and Havelock North is an experience that often combines fresh, locally sourced ingredients with the stunning backdrop of vineyards, landscapes and quaint courtyard scenes, creating an enjoyable experience for visitors and locals alike.

Craggy Range

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253 Waimarama Road, Havelock North

Family-owned Craggy Range is home to not just a globally celebrated winery, but also a quality restaurant, situated mere moments from Havelock North village. Food and wine pairings are common, and there is arguably no place more picturesque than being seated amongst Craggy Range’s impressive onsite garden, with the majestic backdrop of Te Mata Peak behind. There are almost 800㎡ of herbs, fruits and vegetables surrounding diners, all growing in preparation for harvest. The menu typically features a selection of dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients, complementing the vineyard's commitment to showcasing the best of Hawke's Bay. And even on a wet day, the restaurant is designed to maximise the view, so you can be sure that any visit to Craggy Range will be a scenic one.

Three Wise Birds, Garden Bar

1412 Pakowhai Road, Tomoana, Hastings

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree at the Three Wise Birds Garden Bar, where the cidery is located only a stone’s throw (or should we say, core’s throw) from the orchard itself. Nestled amongst the orchard is the Garden Bar, meaning visitors can enjoy the rows and rows of apple trees as a backdrop for their drinks. Expect contemporary bar food and platters, a wide range of cider options and, throughout summer, live music in the sun.

Black Barn Bistro

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Black Barn Road, Havelock North

Black Barn Bistro lies at the very heart of any Black Barn experience - featuring a simple but refined menu that celebrates Hawkes Bay produce, served in a warm, comfortable and relaxing environment. On sunny days, it’s possible to dine al fresco on the spacious deck surrounded by lush greenery, offering an outlook across the rolling hills and vineyards below. It’s the kind of place you’ll never want to leave, and with an assortment of boutique accommodation on site, perhaps you’ll never have to!

Common Room

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227 Heretaunga Street East

Heretaunga Street is home to one of the region’s best little wine bars, with friendly hospitality and banter, live music, comedy nights and an eclectic atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. Enjoy a curated wine list, locally crafted beers and a colourful array of cocktails, with pizza and snacks available if you want something to nibble on. Venture outside to the quaint garden bar, a calming oasis from the antics inside, and a chance to replenish the energy stores before heading back in for an old-school game of competitive pinball. Check online for upcoming events, as on some nights, the garden bar is where the party’s at.

Brave Brewing Co.

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205 Queen Street East

Brave Brewing Co. is a small but mighty Hastings brewery, family-owned and operated and known for producing some of the country’s best craft beers, including the famed Tigermilk IPA. Centrally located in the Tribune Precinct, Brave Brewing is vibrant and relaxed, offering plenty of seating between the covered courtyard and the inside taproom - you can even steal a sneak peek at the brewing facility behind the large glass windows. Brave Brewing also offers a range of hearty food - from hot dogs to chicken wings and burgers, there’s likely something that will hit the spot. The courtyard is the perfect destination for after-work drinks, or a place to catch up over dinner and good beer with friends.

Abbey Cellars

1769 Maraekakaho Road, Bridge Pa

Abbey Cellars’ spacious and sheltered outdoor area has resulted in it being something of a go-to come sunny weekend afternoons in the summertime. Whether it’s accompanied by a wine tasting or a beer flight (both made onsite), pizza or a platter, you can almost be certain that there will be live music and the good vibes will be flowing. Bring your own picnic blanket set up, or claim one of the many tables dotted about to wile the afternoon away. Kids are also welcome, and the lawn game set-up is sure to keep them well entertained.

Deliciosa

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21 Napier Road

Deliciosa has embedded itself as a reliable staple in Havelock North’s dining scene, consistently offering impeccable service and a food and wine experience that always delivers.  With a range of small and large plates designed to share and a covered courtyard out front, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported to somewhere in the Mediterranean, such as Spain or Italy. Every choice is a good choice when it comes to ordering dishes for the table, and complementing the food is an extensive range of wine, cocktails and craft beers - we are in Hawke’s Bay, after all!

Cupple

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216 Heretaunga Street East

Hardly a well kept secret, Cupple has become a reliable go-to for flakey pastries and a good cup of Joe. Run by Hawke’s Bay coffee roasters Firsthand Coffee, and with pastries supplied by neighbouring Ya Bon, this popular cafe exudes cool vibes, from the minimalist interior and decor to the visually pleasing (and tasting) cabinet lineup. It’s no surprise that on any given morning, you’ll find regulars getting their first takeaway coffee of the day, business meetings taking place, families enjoying a moment together before school and work, and visitors who have heard that this is the place to come for their caffeine and carb fix. What’s more of a well kept secret is the courtyard out back, the perfect place to catch some morning sun whilst enjoying that delicious cup of Joe.

Trinity Hill

2396 State Highway 50, Fernhill

Trinity Hill is a winery situated in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels wine region. Whilst the cellar door itself is impressive in its own right (featuring five-metre-high ceilings), the real pleasure lies in enjoying a wine tasting in the courtyard out front. With views of the rather expansive lawn, plenty of outdoor games and umbrellas to ensure protection against the fierce Hawke’s Bay sun, there are plenty of reasons to request an outdoor table. And for those that are feeling peckish, Trinity Hill offers a selection of local tasting platters with fresh produce from the Hawke’s Bay region.

Workroom Café

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15 Joll Road, Havelock North

Sister café to Cupple and also operated by Firsthand Coffee roasters, Workroom Café is hidden down a laneway on Joll Road in Havelock North and specialises in all things caffeine. Being run by coffee masters means that you cannot go wrong with your coffee choice, and to go with your brew there is a cabinet of pastries from Ya Bon to choose from. Whether you want to sit at an outside table and catch up with friends (or do some work, as the name suggests), or park up in front of the glass window inside to peek through at the roasters behind the scenes. Workroom is also likely to feed that caffeine habit - from coffee related events and paraphernalia for sale, coffee lovers will be hard pressed to leave empty handed.

Birdwoods Gallery & Cafe

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298 Middle Road, Havelock North

Transport yourself to another world with a visit to Birdwoods Gallery & Café, a unique place in the heart of rural Havelock North. Its offering and expansive grounds provide an experience that is a bit more special than your everyday lunch outing: wander through beautiful sculptures in the lush garden grounds, a homely café, an old-fashioned sweet shop (that is more than just a feast for the eyes!) and a gallery shop to explore. When hunger strikes, peruse the array of decadent cakes in the cabinet, or grab a menu and take a seat at one of the many outdoor options.

Kindred Road

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201 Queen Street East, Hastings

Whether you are looking for a gift or looking to indulge in a ‘treat yourself’ moment, you are spoiled for choice at Kindred Road, a homewares boutique with an emphasis on sustainability, supporting local and unique offerings. Goods include handcrafted ceramics and glassware, soft furnishings, beauty products and an entire baby section. The in-house cafe provides a well deserved time out from browsing, and the courtyard provides the perfect people-watching spot with all the comings and goings around the trendy Tribune Precinct. Housemade lemonades, award-winning barista coffee (using locally-roasted beans) and a cabinet of treats will have you back on your feet and shopping in no time!

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Opera Kitchen

The empty seating area and counter inside Opera Kitchen.
Place Hastings
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Opera Kitchen in Hastings is somewhat of an institution, having been on the dining scene for over 15 years and accumulating a very loyal customer base while also being at...

St Martha

The bright and beautiful counter at St Martha In Havelock North.
Place Hastings
Cafes key icon. Restaurants key icon.

The Havelock North dining scene continues to trend positively, fuelled recently by its latest addition, St Martha.

Bambina Pizzeria

A close up of a delicious looking pizza in a blue box.
Place Hastings
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Alessandro Buttazzoni is a name possibly familiar to those from Hawke’s Bay, given he is the widely experienced creator of the beloved Alessandro’s Pizza e Pasta...

Spooky’s Pizzeria

A fun looking menu surrounded by illustrated ghosts on a wall at Spooky's Hastings.
Place Hastings
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According to Luke, owner and chief pizza maker at Spooky's Pizzeria in Hastings, pizza has long been one of the best foods in the land.