Central Hawke’s Bay
Grassy farmland stretches south from Hastings, dotted with the grand homesteads of Victorian pastoralists. It’s an untouristed area, rich in history and deserted beaches. Waipukurau (aka ‘Wai-puk’), the main town, isn’t exactly thrilling but it’s worth calling in to the extremely helpful Central Hawke’s Bay Information Centre in the old railway station.
Cromwell has a charming lakeside historic precinct, a great weekly farmers market and, courtesy of local farms and orchards, a few good eateries. If you’re travelling east to Dunedin or west to Queenstown, it’s a good spot to stop for lunch. The nearby Bannockburn region has fine vineyards crafting excellent pinot noir and also some lovely vineyard restaurants.