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Discover Hawke’s Bay with Kiwi Direct Car Rentals...

Hawke’s Bay is serious wine country with the famed art deco Napier in the north, beautiful homesteads, and lovely farm country to the south.

You’re going to enjoy driving your Kiwi Direct rental car through here, and there are a couple of really special highways you can use to and from the centre of the island.

Napier is a good place to start and a good place to explore. The city was hard-hit in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, but out of the rubble rose an art-deco gem of a city centre that is a tourist attraction in itself. One of the best ways to explore it is with a guided walk or on one of the city’s iconic tourist buses.

You’ll get good views from Bluff Hill that rises above the CBD and you can take a drive around the waterfront to the refurbished port area with its cafes and craft shops. The shingle beach facing the town is beautiful but can be dangerous.

Hawke’s Bay is famous for its vineyards, and one of the oldest is the Mission Vineyard right on the city’s doorstep, giving fantastic views over Napier and offering fine dining.

A short distance to the south is Napier’s sister city Hastings, home to Splash Planet fun park. Hastings was less-badly damaged by the 1931 quake and rebuilt in the art deco and Spanish mission styles.

But for a real view of the district head down to the pretty village of Havelock North and drive up the imposing Te Mata Peak for absolutely stunning panoramic views. Below the peak is the Black Barn vineyard, and from there you can look back up at Te Mata and its associated craggy range that gives a nearby vineyard its name.

Hawke’s Bay is known for its wines, especially its reds, and the region’s vineyards are worth a visit. Most offer good dining as well, but remember to be responsible if you are driving - a good wine tour could be the answer.

As well as wine, the Bay is a major fruit and horticulture area and the farmers’ markets, usually held on the weekends, are a great way to spend your time.

But there’s more to the Bay than food and drink.

The gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers offers a close-up look at these seabirds with their amazing aerobatics - the best time is between November and February - or you can get your auto fix at the British Car Museum at Haumoana with its 450 vehicles and said to be the biggest of its type in the world, or you can meet the bees at the Arataki Honey centre near Havelock North.

As you head south in your Kiwi Direct rental car, historic Waipawa and Waipukurau lead you into central and southern Hawkes Bay. For scenic driving you can take the SH5 Napier-Taupo road, but for something really special, the 152-kilometre Napier-Taihape road, dubbed “Gentle Annie” is a must. Take your time and take lots of photos.

And that’s just scratching the surface…