Inland HASTINGS, 20km south of Napier, was once a rival to its northern neighbour as Hawke’s Bay’s premier city, buoyed by the wealth generated by the surrounding farmland and orchards. Napier’s ascendancy as a tourist destination put Hastings firmly in second place, though it does have an attractive core of buildings, erected after the same 1931 earthquake that rocked Napier. Hastings was saved from the worst effects of the ensuing fires, which were quenched using the artesian water beneath the city before they could take hold.
After the earthquake, Hastings embraced the Californian-inspired Spanish Mission style of architecture: roughcast stucco walls, arched windows, small balconies, barley-twist columns and heavily overhung roofs clad in terracotta tiles. The finest examples can be seen in an hour or so, using the self-guided Art Deco Hastings walk leaflet ($2 from the i-SITE). If time is short, limit your wanderings to Heretaunga Street East, taking in the gorgeous bronzework and sumptuous lead lighting of the Westerman Building or, at the corner of Hastings Street, the Hawke’s Bay Opera House – built fifteen years before the earthquake, but remodelled to create the region’s finest Spanish Mission facade.
The city is also at the heart of the wonderful Hawke’s Bay wine country, and most of its vineyards are within easy reach. Apples, pears and peaches also continue to be grown in huge quantities, and the harvest provides work (see Long names and famous flutes).
Hastings’ more upmarket neighbour is Havelock North, 3km southeast and at the foot of the striking ridgeline of Te Mata Peak. There isn’t a great deal to it, and the only diversion is a drive up the peak, or try out the local bars and cafés that line its cobbled streets.