Although Hastings was my childhood home town, it’s always interesting going back to the area and seeing it with adult eyes; every time we go back I see old memories and add new experiences.

Staying in Napier gave us a different starting point and we explored new places, as well as some old favourites.

Friday night saw us back at Ten Twenty Four restaurant in Hastings for our fourth annual visit. We have had some amazing food experiences here and were looking forward to another meal that would blow our socks off. This night the place was a little busier than some other nights we have been, and that may explain why we didn’t get the wow factor. Let me say first off that the food was excellent as was the service, but it was the little extras that seemed to be missing. The taster spoon, and the out of the box presentation and the after meal treat were all lacking tonight. It brought the experience back to just a really nice meal out, but not something I’d gush over as I have before. Hopefully, we just got a busy night and another time we will get that “wow!” again next time we come.

Saturday, we hired bikes from Takaro trails in Ahuriri and set off for a pleasant cycle on the amazing network that Hawkes’ Bay offers. Our ultimate destination was to be Crab Farm Winery for lunch, but we started off by heading south around the water front and along the Marine Parade to Awatoto and then turned inland along the riverbanks to Taradale and north again around the Ahuriri Estuary. By this time we had covered close to 35 km in almost 2 hours and Carolyn’s nether regions were feeling the effects of the cycle seat and the last few kilometres back to the cycle hire shop were rather less enjoyable. Chris suggested we drop the bikes back and drive out to lunch rather than committing to another 20km of pain. The bike shop charged us for only 2 hours hire, although we were slightly over – and were impressed that we had covered 38km plus in that time. The ride was easy and flat, the cycle trails are fabulous and an asset to the region. We will definitely look to explore more another time.

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Crab Farm Winery was full of cyclists and other groups but we were lucky to secure a walk in seat near the window. The menu is more extensive than what you see on the website and a good range of delicious options for lunch. I enjoyed a tasty prawn salad and Chris the steak sandwich. Of course we had to sample to local wines too to get the full experience. Definitely a recommended lunch option – but may pay to pre-book to ensure you get a table.The ambience was lovely and there are plenty of options to get there – cycle trails get you here if you haven’t gone too far and worn out your “seat-muscles” in the previous 2 hours!

Saturday night saw us at Mister D‘s in Napier. We had been here a number of years ago, and it is still getting good ratings so we ventured back again. We were not disappointed. The place was buzzing and the smells and sights of plates going past us excited us for the evening ahead. Service was excellent with helpful suggestions being made and very good attempts at upselling! The complimentary bread to start was fresh and the local olive oil enhanced it. we both enjoyed fish in different forms but both incredibly tasty. The seasonal vegetables were steamed to perfection – carrots were tender without being over done or underdone! And then, just because it’s what you do at Mister D’s, I had to sample one of their freshly made doughnuts with syringe fillings. I can recommend the rum and chocolate plus custard – mmmmm!

We found two coffee places that fulfilled our daily cravings – a little hole in the wall Crazy Good in Ahuriri was excellent – and their fresh pastries certainly tempted us too. Chalk n Cheese out the back of Havelock North served delicious Hawthorne coffee.

Finally, as if we hadn’t had enough good food and wine, we had to finish on Sunday with a lunch that would sustain us for the trip home. We headed first of all to Mission Winery but it was pretty busy and we found nowhere to park the car so drove on out and headed a short distance away to Church Road Winery. Same number of cars, but many more parking spots. We were shown a table outdoors under the sun shade, but partly in the sun which was great to enjoy the beautiful day and the live music. We were really surprised at the value wines – only $7 a glass of their own label, and the excellent food choices. Unsurprisingly, we both went for the smoked salmon which was most excellent in every way. A lovely afternoon could be whiled away in the sun or shade, enjoying great food and live music.

Now we have returned home and time to hit the exercise regime again until our next adventure….

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