This week’s small pleasures #316 or the Hawke’s Bay edition

I was in two minds as to what to write today given this is the first post of 2023, but in the end decided to stick to my usual Monday ‘small pleasures’ post. The year after all ended with the ‘big’ small pleasure of a trip to Hawke’s Bay with our visitors from Sweden. So without further ado…here are some of this week’s highlights.

A wine tasting tour

To give our guests a taste (sorry!) of Hawke’s Bay, we arranged to go on a full day wine tasting tour. Hawke’s Bay is the second largest wine growing region in New Zealand, so a great opportunity to appreciate what is produced up here, Our first stop was Linden Estate, where we tasted 8 different wines, and got shown the barrels of wine in storage. At our second stop we also enjoyed a platter lunch with our wine tasting as you can see below.

From there, we headed to the little boutique vineyard, Element, where we tasted some excellent wines (pictured below – the tyre hanging from the tree was there too). Our next stop was Trinity Hill, where we were shown this yellow concrete egg, which you can read more about here, used in the winemaking process. Our final vineyard was Ash Ridge, with its signpost below to other wine growing regions around the world. It was a beautiful warm, sunny day as well, as you can see from the pictures.

Some of what we ate

Summer holidays are for ice-cream, and I enjoyed this rum and raisin cone from a little place in Napier. Naturally, there was fish and chips one evening. On New Year’s Eve we ate at Trattoria Toscana, where I enjoyed some seafood pasta, but the highlight was dinner at Pacifica – see Wednesday’s post for more on that,

At the beach

On Friday, we drove over to Waimarama Beach. The waves were, well rather large, some even rushing up the beach and reaching where I was sitting, so perhaps not the nicest trip there in terms of a chance to relax and read. My companions, however, went into the water, jumping over waves and enjoying the warm Pacific ocean.


On Saturday morning, we drove over to Hastings. Like Napier, Hastings was destroyed by the earthquake in 1931. The post office with its clock tower was one of the buildings destroyed, and a national competition was held to design a new clock tower. The new Art Deco building, designed by a local architect, was completed towards the end of 1935 (see bottom left below). A train line bisects the pond in the city centre, and you can see there is a level crossing for pedestrians. I checked, and yes trains do run along this line. We also took a look at the newly restored Toi Toi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Event Centre, pictured below, bottom right.


The only shopping I did was food shopping….picking up some golden plum jam and lemon and lime marmalade at the little market in Napier on Saturday morning, and calling in at Veto, a wonderful shop full of all sorts of good things. I could have spent ages here, and in the end came away with a basket of goodies including some dried mandarins, Scottish oatcakes, a tube of anchovy paste and some other items,

Seeing in the new year

Our last day in Napier coincided with the last day of the year. To ring in 2023, we headed down to the waterfront just before midnight. To the background noise of waves crashing on the shore, and the sight and smell of bonfires along the front, we watched the firework display to welcome in the new year.

So, that is me for this week with normal service restored next week with links to other bloggers wonderful posts of the past week. I wish all of you out there a wonderful 2023 and may it bring you joy, happiness and lots of small pleasures.

Also entered in the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on or


  1. Your post brings back lovely memories – I have had so many holidays at Waimarama beach, where family lives. Several generations of my family are from Hastings. It was my mother’s first day of high school on the day of the earthquake you mention.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year, Barbara. I rang in 2023 watching fireworks at the waterfront, too. Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip and beautiful photos with us at #weekendcoffeeshare. Everything looks lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy New Year! Nice to meet you through the Weekend Coffee Share. That beach looks so delightful since our area is covered with snow & ice starting off in this new year. That is an interesting flavor of ice cream. Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy New Year Barbara and a great first post for 2023, I always enjoy your small pleasure and seeing where you went, what you ate and what your saw. Thanks for being a great guide!

    Liked by 1 person

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