“Along with that, there are murmurs of Napier’s first rooftop bar opening this summer, but where?!”

Napier is cool, and, it’s getting cooler.Ask anyone. Really. 

People from the big smoke can’t get enough of what we have to offer. Between the wine, weather, wine, wide range of culinary offerings and wine, we’ve become somewhat of the cool kid of the provincial outliers. 

A foodies (wino’s?) haven, if you will. Combine that with a little more competition in the airfares department (courtesy of Jetstar) and all of a sudden, we’re a front runner for those who are city-locked and looking for feasible weekend escape. 

As a result, the transformation of the Napier CBD especially, to my mind, has been clearly evident, even in the short time we’ve had the privilege to operate in the city. 

‘For lease’ signs have become scarce, and rental values in the city have had a very real boost for a variety of reasons, across all facets. With office space, and in some cases retail space, becoming extremely sought after and thin on the ground. 

Along with this renewed vigour in our city, we’ve also experienced a surge of fresh, young faces now gracing the inner-city landscape. Young professionals putting Napier on the Map. Everything from insurance, web solutions, interior outfitters, photography specialists, fashion, real estate, stock brokers…… the list goes on. 

People are moving to, or moving back to, Napier in droves. And not just average people. Actually the best kind of people. People who have experienced life overseas and bring with them higher expectations when it comes to the service sector. 

We want quality, and we’re willing to pay for it. 

We’ve also seen some very worthy food and beverage newcomers to the CBD in the past few months. 

Mexicali Fresh has added to the Latin landscape, with fresh-as meals to order, and ‘Margherita Mondays’ (yes, it’s a thing!). 

Also, Napier finally has a superb new wine bar we can all be proud of, thanks to Nadia at Matisse. Matisse brings us what is possibly the most killer wine-by-the-glass selection this side of Gay Paree. Nadia delivers super-tasty, sometimes obscure wines from far-away places, in a modern setting, with an amazing menu to back it up. Check out the ‘Natural Wines’ section for a real experience in skin-fermented goodness. 

We also welcome Fraser and the team at Hunger Monger. Far from just fish & chips, these guys deliver kai moana in increasingly creative ways. And always fresh! Absolutely cracking setting on the legendary Marine Parade. Do try the baby octopus dish, it’s linger ficking good.

And then there’s Chris Miram’s new digs. The chocolatier has just opened his own shop at the top of Emerson Street. This is seriously something to experience. If you’ve a penchant for all things sweet, Chris has combined über-technical culinary techniques and flavour combos that will blow your mind. Check it out! 

And, if you can keep a secret, here’s some juicy hospo goss … 

There is a certain celebrity chef currently looking for a suitable location right here in Hawke’s Bay … who could that be, you ask?

Along with that, there are murmurs of Napier’s first rooftop bar opening this summer, but where?! Dunno about you, but to me this is extremely excellent news. 

… and all the while there are numerous up-market national franchises looking for space in Napier, which shows strong confidence in the local market. 

How lucky are we?! 

Did I miss something? Let me know!

Benny Fernandez is the friendly face and force behind one of central Napier’s favourite coffee stops – Georgia on Tennyson. 


Nothing like a nude woman arriving in the Village to stir things up. 

May saw The Garden 2002 by Paul Dibble installed in front of the historic i-SITE. Before she arrived, headlines of “Outrage” made the front page. Obviously a slow news week, as the outrage was from two anonymous individuals.

Anyway, she is there and is fabulous in my opinion. Many women were involved in the opening ceremony: Dame Patsy Reddy, our governor general unveiled the plaque, Mayor Sandra Hazelhurst spoke, as did the chair of the MTG, Johanna Mouat. The Ngāti Kahungunu performing group had four women (and incidentally our HN Business Association board has six women and one bloke).

A big thank you to the trustees of the Mills Family Trust for having the vision to fund the purchase. 

The HNBA vision for the Village is to have more public art on display. The successful collaboration for The Garden is one way this can happen. Hence the Business Association has started a sculpture fund. The intention is to add more public art around the Village and surrounds. Public art has to meet certain criteria of public safety, however, plus of course durability and robustness. If you, as an individual, family, business or trust wish to donate, please contact us (see address at end).

‘Love the Village’ environmentally-friendly merchandise. Photo: Lee Warren

If the opportunity to purchase something comes up, we will hopefully have the funds available or we may commission a piece. At Wildflower Sculpture in November we may see something there that excites us and meets the criteria for public art. The HNBA is working with council reps and others to identify possible locations.

Eventually we would like to link the public art throughout Hawke’s Bay with a phone app that tells the story behind each piece and its artist. Locals and visitors alike can take a self-guided tour.

The historic i-SITE building has now been earthquake-strengthened so should continue to be around for a long time.

May saw “The Garden 2002”
by Paul Dibble installed in front of the historic i-SITE. Before she arrived, headlines of “Outrage” made the front page. Obviously
a slow news week, as the outrage was from two anonymous individuals.
Photo: Tim Whittaker. tim.co.nz

In May we hosted TARGA Hawke’s Bay. This car rally gives drivers the chance to drive on closed roads around Hawke’s Bay and CHB. The Village welcomes them by decorating the centre roundabout with chequered bunting, the TARGA flag flying and converting some of the pods into racing cars. Shops display chequered flags in their window displays and TARGA love it! The local petrol heads club assist by displaying classic or luxury cars in the Village for us to inspect and have car envy over. 

The Tour cars are allowed a top speed of 160 kms per hour and the competitive cars 200 kms per hour. This is a unique chance for high performance cars to be driven the way they have been designed to. Next year we are encouraging TARGA to add a speed trial category whereby those with say a classic car can experience the roads but with a competition challenge to maintain an average speed overall of perhaps 75 kmph.

Havelock North, unfortunately, has been in the news, negatively associated , simply by virtue of close proximity, with the Craggy Range track controversy. Hopefully the discussions between parties have included future safeguards and cover NO dwellings or building of any description to be erected on the eastern side of the Peak range. 

A warning to sensitive souls, mass nakedness in the village! 

Napier Road, leading into the Village, has had 30 of the 35 trees that grew in the centre median strip removed. They were 40 years old and the Council decided to remove them in preparation for the laying of the water main. Golden elms are the council’s replacement choice, planted in root retainers. I do hope they remembered to add irrigation if the roots are restricted. Rotary HN assisted with the replanting. 

In addition, a further 10 trees in the Village CBD are destined for removal over the next two years (mainly Melia trees) as they are posing a health and safety risk with damage and upheaval to the surrounding footpaths.

The Village is committed to significantly reduce plastic and some initiatives are already happening, such as the ‘No Straw’ movement in cafes and bars. And now we are super excited to launch a new range of ‘Love the Village’ merchandise. The range is environmentally friendly with some cool designs that celebrate our region: the sunshine, green hills and orchards that produce our abundant fruit, the landscape of Te Mata Peak, rivers, sky and trees, plus a nod to our vibrant coffee and croissant culture, and of course our love affair with good produce, wine and cuisine.

The initial range includes market jute bags, cotton tote bags, cotton tea towels, reusable glass coffee cups, handy notebooks packs and caps. We would love to see everyone getting their coffee in the reusable cups instead of takeaway cups, and using the market bags and tote bags for their shopping. Perfect affordable, practical gifts for all! 

We’ll have a stall at local events in the future, but they are available to buy online now on our HNBA website www.havelocknorthnz.com or pop into Papillion shop up Joll Road to view.

Sculpture fund donations email: info@havelocknorthnz.com 

Facebook: Love Havelock North


Plus, they make their own pies. Scoffing a mince and cheese is so much chic-er when it’s called Beef Bourguignon and may or may not contain wine.

Suburbia’s constant quest for a village vibe sees us set out from our front doors in search of coffee … within walking distance. More relaxed than those centred in the city. The walk, with or without the obligatory Hawke’s Bay rescue dog, justifies the fact that we are suburbanites clinging to the edges of a more sophisticated setting.

It’s certainly a sign of the changing Hastings population that a decent café within walking distance from home has become as important as an 8+ decile school, street parking and 600 squares in which to grow your own.

For those north of the city – Frimley, Mahora and environs – the new place to go is Little Frimley Kitchen. White, light and well-tiled, the atmosphere is inner-city living. “We could be in Melbourne!” my well-travelled companion tells me. And when I bump into a fellow Auckland escapee, she agrees it’s just enough of ‘Home’ to keep her sane in the provinces. 

Plus, they make their own pies. Scoffing a mince and cheese is so much chic-er when it’s called Beef Bourguignon and may or may not contain wine. And if you like your cream-filled donuts extra big with 100s-and-1000s and rainbow popcorn on top – and who doesn’t?! –LFK is your place. Added bonus: it’s so far from the city no-one’ll know you had one and called it breakfast.

Up that way too and handily halfway to the Dog Park is the Pakowhai branch of Red Bridge. Red Bridge being halfway to Waimaz in the opposite direction makes this a confusing proposition, but bear with me. The original Red Bridge coffee offering is at the junction where Havelock North becomes Tukituki-adjacent. It is such a hit with the locals and those-passing-through that the clever-clogs made another and plonked it on Pakowhai Road. 

Basically a rusty container, it houses a knock-out coffee machine, a hot-shot barista and daily goodies from Ya Bon. Nestled in the remnants of an apple orchard, there’s shade, rustic tables and chairs and just enough nature to make you feel you’ve had some fresh air.

If you’re over the other side of the city near Raureka and St Leonards, there’s life-after-town options for you too. Local is on Southhampton Street, very handy if you have any need to visit the ‘stockyards’ (whatever they are). Fuse is on the main street but so far from the city it’s almost in its own enclave. The food is terrific, easy to transport home and big enough to keep you going ‘til teatime. There is room to eat-in but their real schtick is food and joe to-go. The post office, chemist, dairy and bank make it a justifiable walk and it’s a welcome respite from all the crap served that side of the city.

Akina is synonymous now with the little-roastery-that-could: Aurum. The food here is average, but the coffee is excellent, especially their White Gold blend. They are the most dog friendly place in the burg and with an extra-wide, paved footpath out the front my Americana-alfresco-con-cane is always a delight.

Meandering distance from Parkvale is MYLK. It’s a pocket café tucked into a bigger suburban complex that also includes their heat’n’eat outlet. It’s a no-go with kids or dogs but quite frankly that’s often exactly what I’m after! And with the takeaway meals on one side and a terrific butchery on the other, coffee and cake for me and mac’n’cheese for the famished locusts at home saves my sanity.

Melissa Campbell, owner-operator of Red Bridge Coffee. Photo: Florence Charvin

There are holes in our necessary net of sanctuaries. If you live in Mayfair you’ll need to traipse in towards town or out to the Bay Espresso on the highway. Camberley and whatever that suburb-to-the-south-of-the-city is called are empty as far as I am aware. If you know a new place that brings the bean to the ‘burbs I’d love to hear about it.

These places aren’t just bourgeois opportunities to sip lattes and eat pastries. They’re also essential to a community’s wellbeing, to our sense of place, to building connections, checking in on each other. Take a mooch with a pooch, have a natter with a neighbour, these shared spaces at the edges of our city are just as viable a destination as the centre itself. 


Even with winter now upon us, our seaside suburb continues to attract many locals and visitors. The number of cyclists and walkers enjoying the water’s edge path that links the town with Ahuriri seems to be significantly up on previous years.

Ahuriri is blessed with the ambience of an old fishing village, with the coming and going of yachts, trawlers and pleasure boats as well as a working fish loading wharf.

And still vibrant when evening attention moves to the many bars, restaurants and the lovely Globe movie theatre.

Businesses are continuing to locate to Ahuriri, adding to its vibrancy and growth. Also residential building continues with three large projects at various stages. The old Ahuriri bowling club grounds is destined for redevelopment, the Tremains apartments in Waghorne Street are nearing completion and Mackersey Construction’s apartments on Bridge Street are well underway. 

Take note that the Napier City Council now collects more rates from Ahuriri than from the CBD area of the city!

NCC’s 10 year Ahuriri Master Plan

The Plan was released last year for consultation with stakeholders, with many submissions made. 

The Ahuriri Business Association submitted against a sea swimming pool at Perfume Point, as the cost of building a pool in the ocean would be prohibitive and rising sea levels would add uncertainty, giving this project a very poor chance of success. We felt the cost and energy required would be better spent on the coastal erosion and inundation protection project.

We also recommended reconsideration of the shops proposed for Bridge Street at the end of the Iron Pot. This area needs urgent upgrading and redevelopment, but we believed the crashing and rattling of the ever increasing number of trucks crossing the railway lines at this point would seriously impact retail operations.

We have yet to see any revisions or updates to the original document as a result of these consultations.

Inner harbour

As part of the 10 year plan the Napier City Council recognized the raw storm water emptying into the estuary and the inner harbour is causing an unacceptable level of pollution that must be addressed. Indeed after heavy rain the water resembles brown soup. 

It is laudable the Council intends to address this issue, which will benefit the estuary flora and fauna, the recreational opportunities for Pandora Pond, and amateur and commercial users of the inner harbour. It will also benefit the inshore fish breeding grounds outside the harbour entrance.

The Iron Pot

This iconic part of Napier’s history is dilapidated and condemned in places. The Iron Pot has huge potential to generate funds from mooring fees for commercial and recreational boats, as well as an option for a super yacht terminal. First though, a significant upgrade of the facility is required in terms of dredging and redevelopment and beautification of the perimeter. The council intends to upgrade. We look forward to seeing their proposal and time frames.

Ahuriri beach

The Ahuriri Business Association advocates that Council upgrade the introduced crushed sand for natural sand at the Ahuriri beach. Supporting this request is Volleyball Hawke’s Bay, plus all four of the surf life saving clubs. These groups would use this area of beach above the high tide mark, except the current sand is so sharp it causes grazes to bare feet and legs. 

The beach is also very popular with the public and swimmers, but the current sand quality and dust mean the potential of the beach is far from realised. 

Trucks, trucks, trucks!

The success of Hawke’s Bay businesses and the Napier Port has increased the number of trucks using the Port corridor through Ahuriri well above the predictions made in the NZTA/Beca Report (based on 2015 information).

Napier Port is holding meetings with NZTA, NCC and the Regional Council to ensure planning is underway to mitigate the issues increasing truck numbers will inevitably cause. The expression ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is all too true in this instance. The main issues of concern are:

1. The weigh station needs to move. Why? Safety and congestion – trucks queue back along Hyderabad Road and also often undertake dangerous U-turns from the weigh station causing safety concerns.

As part of the 10 year plan the Napier City Council recognized the raw storm water emptying into the estuary and the inner harbour is causing an unacceptable level of pollution that must be addressed. Indeed after heavy rain the water resembles brown soup.

2. The log measuring location needs to move. Why? Safety and congestion – the current location requires logging trucks to do a right turn off Hyderabad Road, then after measuring do another right turn back onto Hyderabad Road to continue to the port.

3. Truck parking needs to be provided. Why? If too many trucks arrive at the port at the same time, queuing occurs on Breakwater Road outside the port entrance causing traffic and safety issues. Although the port does schedule arrival windows, if trucks arrive ahead of their scheduled time they need somewhere to wait. Currently this is ad hoc on the side of the road somewhere in Ahuriri.

4. The two faceted corners south of the peanut roundabout and one to the north should be replaced with more rounded ones. Why? Safety! These corners cause serious sight restrictions for traffic and pedestrians wishing to cross this increasingly busy road. And traffic through this area should be slowed. The Lever Street/Hyderabad crossing is now very dangerous, especially at peak traffic times.

Twenty years ago Ahuriri was a very different place. The foresight of those who recognised the potential of the area and were prepared to invest has put Ahuriri on its current course of improvement and development. To continue this trajectory will require foresight, planning and investment – with leadership required from our city planners in consultation with those with a passion and vision for Ahuriri. 

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