A pauper enjoying paradise

As I was jetting my way back from a luxury wellness retreat in a delightfully rustic – but ridiculously expensive – secret location, I was musing the movements of those below me: Where do the great unwashed, the rank-and-file and the common people go on their holidays, while we rich listers are inhaling caviar at The Farm? 

Most of them will be too busy to think about it, working 50 hours a week labouring at humdrum tasks for minimum wage. So, I have done the thinking for them: indulgent yet affordable ways to satisfy Cristal tastes on a Long White budget. 

While in Hawke’s Bay, the Top 1% spend their down-time doing six things: Golfing, Fishing, Touring, Shopping, Wining ‘n’ Dining and Lounging about. Leisure of the lumpenproletariat should follow a similar formula, so pack your knock-off Dior duffle, we’re away!


Hawke’s Bay is famous for its golf courses. Megamillionaires flock to tee off with some of the most exclusive views just where my Big Bertha knocks my Dixon Fire eco-friendly golf ball ($125 per dozen) into the rough. But green fees can be up-there and who has time or energy to play a full 18 without a caddy or a cart! Plus, you need Ralph Lauren plus-fours to really swing into action and they come at a pretty-penny! 

Instead, hold a golf tour of another sort. Starting at Marine Parade Mini- Golf, swing, chip and putt your way around the Bay. From Napier, head to Hastings Golf Centre by way of Golflands on Karamu. With a convoy of cronies in tow, a mini-golf tour will let you take in the sights, get physical, have some jolly japes, and unleash the secret Tiger inside you! A cheap trophy from the $2 Shop can really up the ante. Whoever wins, shouts. The official 19th hole clubrooms of the mini-putt fraternity is Bare Knuckle BBQ on Pakowhai Road. 


Guided flyfishing is big business here with big-wigs helicoptering into the wop-wops to hook a trout. 

There’s just as much fun to be had for a fraction of the price taking the ute out to the Clive rivermouth for a spot of surf-casting. An even cheaper option – and this is a fun one for the littlies – is to get a sprat catcher from Hunting & Fishing and chuck it off the wharf in Ahuriri. 

Chances are the sprogs’ll have had enough by ten and you’ll be sipping a latte at Crazy Good in no-time. Catching a few minnows might not be as much of a challenge as reeling in a lunker but if you take the photo close up no one on the Gram will notice the difference. 

Or skip the fuss, hook some fish ‘n’ chips from the award-winning Pirimai Chippie and regale your friends with fishy stories on the seawall at Perfume Point. 


One of the things money can buy is a view. But priceless views are accessible to all if you know where to go and when. Whirinaki at sunrise is worth the schlep and Te Mata at sunset delivers the goods when it comes to high-value vistas. There are so many places worth the drive, that whichever way you head, within an hour you’ll be in a place that takes your breath away. 

Before you set out, do your research. Online, the BayBuzz series ‘HB Walkabout’ is a mine of info about where to go and what to look out for. If you come across the wonderful book by Sheila Cunningham, Hawke’s Bay for the Happy Wanderer, buy it without hesitation. It’s forty years old but with hand drawn maps and delightful descriptions it adds an extra layer of interest to adventuring, like having a seasoned cicerone along for the ride.

Just as much fun is leaving the vehicle at home and setting off on foot to ramble with the rabble starting at the front door of your humble abode. ‘Wandering’ is all the rage with urbanauts around the world. Silence the phone, pack a knapsack, take a notebook and head off. 

There are a number of pseudo-intelligentsia movements including dérive (from the French for ‘drift’), psychogeography, and the Wander Society if you want to Wikipedia. Really, it’s mooching about on an unplanned journey while you’re fully focused on what you are noticing and the effects it is having on your emotions. Guy-Ernest Debord, Marxist Theorist, who recommended its benefits, encouraged people to “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there”. 

It’s all very deep and meaningful but it does help get your steps in and give you some good ol’ fashioned fresh air. It’s also a great way to clear your head; the poor have so many things clogging up their meagre brains. As my private Classics tutor Dr Michaux used to say “Solvitur Ambulando!”.

If you’re up for a bit more action and a little less navel gazing, geocaching is a way to tour the Bay and get to know your backyard. You’ll need to download an app – don’t panic, it’s free – and take some tiny geegaws with you to replenish the cache when you find it. With a combination of the ‘Geocaching’ app and the GPS on your phone (or download the ‘Waze’ app) you can explore parks, bush or river banks looking for small containers that have been hidden all over the place by ordinary folk like you. There are over 2 million caches around the world and plenty to seek out in NZ. 


While you’re exploring the Bay’s by-ways, look out for the Pick-Your-Own. Tycoons only eat handpicked and polished White Jewel strawbs shipped in from Tokyo at $USD10 each. But you’ll love the feeling of plucking your own juicy berries from Strawberry Patch in Havelock or Ruby Glen and U-Pick, both in Meeanee, then carting them home to the ‘burbs for daiquiris on the deck with your favourite plebs.


Art is often seen as the domain of the elite, but there’s plenty of arts experiences you can have for next-to-nothing. Galleries are free to enter and there are oodles of them. Buy a postcard if you’re feeling flush! Look out for ‘floor talks’ by artists or curators where they give a deep-dive of particular shows. This is how we aficionados get the inside steer on what’s worth blowing a cool million on! 

Many artists have open studios and there are plenty of small dealer galleries around and about. My personal go-tos are Rabbit Room and Tennyson Gallery both in Napier, Paper-Works in Te Awanga and Ākina in Hastings. The hawkesbayartguide.co.nz website has all the info or you can pick up a hard-copy from the CAN in Napier and Arts Inc in Hastings. 

Now-and-again the Hastings City Art Gallery runs walking tours, but it’s just as much fun to meander around a city musing artists’ inspiration and execution. A walking tour of murals and public art is well worth the investment in time. Plus, actually buying art is a pastime for people with over 500 square metres of house. The walls in your hovel are far too small for a Poppelwell original.


Glamping is all the rage. Even at music festivals there’s sites set aside for affluent vagabonds, a field of lotus bells with plenty of flags and fairy lights, posh nosh and boujee booze. For the hoi-polloi, glamping means filling the chilly bin, hooking up the Campomatic and trekking off to Haumoana Domain. Take your bunting and your festoon lighting with you. Expire in a sunlounger, slap on the clout goggles, mix yourself an aperol spritz and flick through Vanity Fair

Pools are a must when it comes to indulgence. Don’t have a pool? Find a friend with one and park up at their place. If they’re loaded they won’t even notice your lot tucked behind the pavilion. 

If you are sans camper or caravan, Kennedy Park in Napier, the Top Ten in Hastings, the Riverside in Wairoa and, down in CHB, the Waipukurau Holiday Camp all have chalets that are practically carbon copies of the gîte I rented in Provence last July. Rumour has it Clive Hideaway is opening new cabins this summer (and you know how I love Clive). 

Whichever way you’re heading, the mission is to get out of town. From there, it doesn’t matter how far you go. Might be just a twenty minute commute from your front door, but it’s a world away in terms of care and commitments. Load up with treats, turn off the wi-fi, toss in swingball and a frisbee, and it’s Hi-De-Hi holiday.


Shopping of any kind is a popular pastime for the upper middle-classes, and the upper upper-classes. Specific away-day purchases often include art and accessories. Both can act as lasting reminders of a trip or a treat or a travelling companion. 

The masses, with three-digit caps on their credit cards, can get their retail kicks in a similar way. Op shops you don’t regularly frequent feel like treasure troves when your mission is to find a gem to act as a memento. Pins and postcards from the provinces are real finds: Wairoa Pigeon Fanciers or Waipawa Bowls Club badges, 1960s postcards of Hastings Clock Tower, a pin from the Rissington Country Women’s Institute. My picks are Napier Antique and Jewellery Centre, the Cranford in Hastings, the whole shopping strip of main street Waipawa and that place behind the Wairoa New World that looks like my dead uncle’s mancave.

But it doesn’t have to be second-hand. A Six-Sisters tea towel makes a cheap and cheerful statement piece in the right frame.

Thrifting is always a favourite with the riffraff. To make a day of it, throw in a challenge to the troops: $20 to buy an outfit for a night out … then actually wear that outfit out that night! 

A popular destination with travellers elsewhere is the megamall … but there isn’t one in the Bay. The next best thing is to visit K-Mart at 11pm. Wandering the aisles aimlessly is soothing and the people-watching opportunities are knock-out. And you’ll be so tired, that the bewildered and slightly buzzed feeling the culture shock gives you will kick in and you’ll feel like you’ve just flown into an airport mall in some exotic locale.


Seeking out restaurants with ‘Three Hats’ or Michellin stars is a staple for the natty A-list, hungry for yet another way to eat organic chicken or fair-trade quinoa. 

But summer calls for casual and hands-on fare, eating alfresco, family-style … burning your own bangers on the barbie. Proletariats want a main course that goes with beer.

Eating a meal a friend has made is always an option. Indulge your lazy side and invite yourself to dinner. Pretend your mate’s your private chef. Just remember, don’t click your fingers and crow “Garçon!” or you may not be invited back.

Best of both worlds is running a progressive meal with a bunch of friends where the whole lot of you move between courses. The trick for those charged with dessert and aperitif is to prep before setting off for the entree. Otherwise, you’ll be all so squiffy you’ll be lucky to serve up a scoop of tiptop. Once when I was slumming it, we did such a progressive meal by bicycle. The upside was we burned as many calories as we ingested. The downside was we had to ditch the bikes in a bush after the fish dish and zigzag to the main thanks to a tad too much prosecco granita in the intermezzo.

It’s fun to add a theme. ‘TV Dinners’ screams lower classes. It’s such fun to serve your pals mac’n’cheese from tinfoil trays, with a beaker of chateau cardboard run through the sodastream. 

La jeunesse dorée enjoy flitting between wineries downing bottles from Yvonne Lorkin’s must-drink list. Wage-slaves can have just as much fun weaving around Gimblett Gravels sipping samples. For under a tenner you can have a decent slurp or two at the cellar door, pretending you’re going to buy a case through the website as soon as you get back to your Black Barn retreat.


Many of the Bay’s wineries, cideries and breweries hold summer/Sunday Chill-out Sessions. Abbey Cellars, Te Awanga Estate and Peak House come to mind. These are just as much fun as big ticket gigs at the Mission. Pack a picnic, find some friends, buy yourself a glow stick for after-dark. Head out to your favourite winery to lie on the lawn and soak up the sounds of live music. Or just decamp to the local park with a carefully curated Spotify playlist. The parks with the splash pads are best, that way the kids can make their own fun.

A more solitary, but just as satisfying, way to get that luxurious feeling is to clean the house from top to bottom, put something delicious in the crock pot (and something even more delicious in the fridge), stock up on crackers, cheese and a box of Roses. Farm out the children, then go out for the day. Come home when it’s dark. Pretend you’re returning to a luxury lodge miles from anywhere. Run a bath. Read a book. Dump the social feed and invite a friend over for an uninterrupted natter. Now that’s an indulgence money can’t buy! 


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