Following on from Part 1, Hawkes Bay local Mary Shanahan continues her gastronomic journey around the region.
A repurposed container near the Marine Parade approach to the Napier port, Magnet delivers on its promise of “the best view in town”. The beachside café attracts cyclists and parents with young kids who can sprawl out on the grass, kick back on bean bags or sit at tables shaded by sun umbrellas. On a clear day – and there are plenty of these in Hawke’s Bay — the view is framed by Mahia peninsula and Cape Kidnappers’ limestone bluffs. This is the hook of Maui, the legendary fisherman who hauled the North Island our of the sea.
Food offerings reflect Magnet’s casual vibe. Sausage rolls, pies, muffins, banana walnut loaf, slices and locally-made Rush Munro ice-cream – “just sort of snacky food”, to accompany a smoothie or Café L’Affare coffee, says owner-operator Irina Schneuwly.
Another container café, Red Bridge Coffee is a rustic stop-off on the south side of the Tukituki River, where the Waimarama and Tukituki roads meet. The very scenic 10-minute drive from Havelock North can be extended with wine tastings at Te Mata Estate and Craggy Range and a detour up to spectacular views from the craggy summit of Te Mata Peak. The café includes a grassed area alongside a horse paddock – so there’s space for youngsters to let off steam.
How the Red Bridge acquired its name is anyone’s guess as the lichen-encrusted balustrading is painted a faded white. Red Bridge Coffee provides good off-road parking and tables and chairs for relaxing in the rural surrounds. The café’s chunky toasted sandwiches make for a very adequate lunch.
With a sweet shop and gallery as well as a café, Birdwoods – a five-minute drive along Middle Road, west of Havelock North — is a destination in its own right. Owners Louise and Bruce Stobart started developing the site after moving from Zimbabwe to Hawke’s Bay in 2004. Once the St Peter’s Church hall in Waipawa, the gallery is stocked with tempting buys including curios sourced from Africa. The sweet shop was formerly a one-room colonial cottage, also moved on site. Birdwood customers are served coffee, snacks and lunch in an area at the rear of the gallery overlooking an expanse of lawn fringed by trees, or outdoors, where there is a sculpture garden walk.
Snapper Café is popular with cyclists biking the return coastal route from Napier to Bay View or detouring off the Wetland pathway north of Hawke’s Bay Airport. Located at the approach to the Napier Beach Kiwi Holiday Park (there’s a back entrance off Rogers Road, which runs parallel with the coast), it’s the cyclists’ version of off piste. The café is well set up for cyclists, providing bike stands and an outdoors courtyard for lunching or snacking al fresco .
Running north-south through Hawke’s Bay, state highway two takes in Waipawa, a small settlement that is well worth a pit-stop. Check out the excellent Waipawa Butchery, which sells lamb and beef from Patangata Station, and the handful of quirky independent shops along the short main drag. Having stretched your legs, call in at Nola’s Café and Restaurant, an enterprise that prides itself on catering for locals as much as the passing trade.
On the Napier-Taihape Road, de la terre is a pleasant 20-minute drive from Hastings or Taradale to the farming district of Sherenden. It’s a small family-run enterprise comprising an earth-brick winery and cellar door and a café, created by former Church Road winemaker Tony Prichard and his wife Kaye, whose study with the London School of Cordon Bleu (NZ) Ltd is reflected in the food. Phone ahead to book a table. Tony handcrafts small volumes of high-quality wines – a methode traditionelle blanc de blancs, table and dessert viognier, syrah and an estate chardonnay. De la terre’s pastoral setting is very much heartland Hawke’s Bay.