Thanks to all our readers and friends who responded to the BayBuzz ‘Summer in Hawke’s Bay’ online survey.

Your responses, while not meant to represent a ‘scientific’ sampling of our population, offer some fascinating insight into the activities and places we most enjoy as part of Hawke’s Bay’s stunning summers.

And as this survey indicates, we take our summer holidays seriously!

Of those presently employed, 77% will take an official break from work over the summer. Of those, 37% will enjoy more than two weeks off work (women predominate here), 27% will take off two weeks, 22% one week, and the balance just a few days.

Our seriousness about summer is reflected in the holiday practices of our businesses. Fully 38% work in a business that totally shuts down for some interval. And 27% say their businesses remain open, but “tend to operate in slow motion”. Only a third of our respondents’ businesses operate “pretty much business as usual”.

I suspect the experience of anyone in Hawke’s Bay trying to get anything ‘discretionary’ done in January would validate those statistics! In most cases, urgent’ and ‘summer’ do not co-exist in Hawke’s Bay.

And how will we spend our holiday time – slow down or speed up?

Slightly more, 42%, say they will “step up a gear”, pursuing “heaps of outdoor activity”, compared to the 38% who say they will “slow down, relax and chill out”. The remaining 20% approach summer “pretty much the same as always”.

Interestingly, men are far more inclined to step up a gear, while women prefer to relax and chill out. Hopefully this split doesn’t lead to too much household strife!

Looking at specific summer activities in more detail, we see a kaleidoscope of interests pursued. We asked respondents to consider a list of activities, assigning a rank of ‘5’ to those they most enjoyed (“can’t get enough of”).

Looking at just the ‘5’ rankings, the ‘Top 3’ activities with broadest appeal are not that surprising – reading (which, of course, pleases BayBuzz), barbecuing, and swimming (especially those age 50 and younger). Gardening sits slightly behind in fourth place.

When we include both ‘4’ and ‘5’ rankings, we get a broader picture. Reading (driven by the women and those age 65 plus) and barbecuing still rule, but both gardening and home projects tie for third place, edging out swimming. Women seem to be big fans of barbecuing. If my household is an indicator, I suggest this reflects who actually stands over the grill!

The full response is on the next page. The surprises here to me are the relatively low ranking for activities like camping, tramping, fishing and even cycling. Aren’t these part of the Hawke’s Bay identity? Where do you sit?

We took a different look at how HBers liked to spend their summer days by asking about somewhat more specific activities. Our question: “Thinking only of last summer or this coming summer, which of these activities have you done or plan to do?”

Tops here were: go to the beach, go to a farmers’ market, take a visitor to Te Mata Peak, take a visitor to a winery – all pretty generic and unsurprising. But the full response sheds a bit more light on our faves.

The surprise here for me … nearly half going to Lake Taupo.

Food and drink loom large in the Hawke’s Bay summer experience, as the popularity of barbecuing attests.

We asked an open-ended question: “For a casual summer drink or nibble, what’s your favourite place?” While heaps of establishments were mentioned – Clearview Estate and the Ahuriri strip leading the pack – far and away the most often volunteered response was some version of ‘barbecuing on my deck’. 

My favourite: “Gary’s place. He lives in Napier Road. Or Brett’s place in Middle Road.”

And what do we prefer to barbecue?

Steak, by far and away, at 33%.

However, less meat for the women and those under age 50 please, and more seafood and chicken.

Matched with our favourite summer drink … wine at 50%, followed by something “cold, but non-alcoholic” at 26%, and then beer at 20% (but beer is tops for men). Gin & tonic fans like myself clearly bringing up the rear.

As for desserts, we asked about only one summer classic … ice cream.

The top five flavours: hokey pokey, vanilla, feijoa and berry (any berry) tied, passionfruit, chocolate. Just about every flavour under the sun was mentioned. And local brand loyalty prevailed, with a number mentioning Rush Munro, as opposed to a flavour.

Of course, not all summer dining is at home. We asked: “For a special summer treat, what’s your favourite outdoor dining spot?” Here’s the response.

Top choice for women was Elephant Hill; for men, Ahuriri waterfront. But Clearview Estate won out with balanced appeal. The most frequent ‘Other’ mentions were, again, some version of ‘my backyard’, or picnics, especially around water.

We locals tend to remain loyal to the Bay for the summer. We asked: “Can you think of a better place to spend your summer than Hawke’s Bay? Fully 78% said NO. Of those who would stray from HB, Northland and Coromandel received the most mentions. And then there was St Moritz!

So, 51% will stay in the Bay for their summer holiday (76% of those over age 65 will), 36% will spend time elsewhere in New Zealand, and 4% outside NZ. The rest were unsure.

In fact, the larger tide is coming our way! Fully 77% of respondents expect to entertain summer visitors from outside Hawke’s Bay. As they say in tourism circles, that’s a net inflow of 37%!

What will we do with our summer visitors? We’ve already seen in responses above the popularity of taking visitors to our beaches and wineries.

And that was reinforced when we asked an open-ended question: “If you are having summer visitors from outside HB, what is the one thing you would insist they do?” Arguably this question gets at what we locals regard as our top local attraction.

Winner of top ‘must do’ activity … visit Te Mata Peak, especially the Redwoods. Checking out the wineries, beaches and farmers’ markets followed.

A few more adventurous would venture to Lake Waikaremoana or the gannet colony. And one suggestion of Bareknuckle BBQ … hmmm!

What strikes me about our own view of the ‘best’ that Hawke’s Bay offers in the summer is that it is not any particular ‘attraction’ … certainly no commercial venue or attraction like an aquarium or water park or Hobbitown.

Instead, it’s a ‘place’ – an accumulation of outstanding natural features, complemented by a broad assortment of food and wine experiences to which many enterprises contribute.

Aren’t we privileged to enjoy summer in Hawke’s Bay?!

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