‘You could plant a broomstick in the ground in Hawke’s Bay and it would sprout!’ It’s an old local joke, but it highlights the amazing combination of conditions that give Hawke’s Bay the moniker of ‘The fruit bowl of New Zealand’. With a temperate maritime climate, lots of sunshine, access to river and underground aquifer water and dozens of different soil structures across the region, it’s little wonder that the area has a long history of diverse food production. Back in the day the giant canning and food processing company Watties seemed to employ half of Hawke’s Bay. Many of the large food processing companies are still based in the regions’ largest town, Hastings, but it’s the proliferation in recent years of small specialty food producers across ‘the Bay’ that has changed the face of the food industry in the region. The domination of  the retail food scene by New Zealands’ two giant supermarket companies has prompted many small producers to find alternatives to get their products in front of consumers. Specialty food outlets – either at collective markets or at producer premises – now abound in Hawke’s Bay. Here’s a selection of some of the best places to go for your ‘foodie’ fix;

Hawke’s Bay Food Markets

Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market: Every Sunday morning 8.30am – 12.30pm | Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Kenilworth Road, Hastings The ‘Big Daddy’ of farmers markets is set in a beautiful garden atmosphere with plenty of shade, on sunny days, under mature trees. One of the largest farmers markets in the country sets up stall each Sunday morning to sell delicious wares to locals and visitors alike. From fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, bread, pickles and preserves to locally made sausages, chilli sauces and wine. How about a macaron with your cup of locally roasted coffee? If you have time for only one food experience when in Hawke’s Bay then this market is for you. Just make sure it’s a Sunday.

The Village Growers Market: Summer Saturday mornings 9.00am – 12.00pm | Black Barn Vineyards, Black Barn Road, Havelock North Set under a ring of Plane trees in the heart of a vineyard, this market begins in early summer with the new seasons asparagus, strawberries and artichokes. All manner of delicious fresh and prepared foods are for sale from local growers. The atmosphere is intimate and lots of fun.

Napier Urban Farmers Market: Every Saturday 9.00am – 1.00pm | Lower Emerson Street, Napier Set under the trees between Clive and Memorial Squares in the heart of Napier, this market is a mini-version of the full-blown Farmers Market at Hastings on Sundays (see above). For those staying in the centre of town it couldn’t be more convenient, or convivial. Mixing with the locals and sampling some of the divine local artisan food treats is a great way to finish off a morning wandering the town centre.

Hawke’s Bay Specialty Food Producers

Arataki Honey Visitor Centre: Open 7 days 9.00am – 5.00pm | Arataki Road, Havelock North A wonderland of exploration on all things honey for the whole family. A great opportunity to try 10 distinctly different honeys gathered from New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna. Discover the healing powers of legendary Manuka Honey and take a look into the centre of a real working honey beehive.

The Strawberry Patch: Open 7 days 8.30am – 5.30pm | 96 Havelock Road, Havelock North Fifteen years ago this started with a little red shed and the fresh strawberries and other produce they picked right there every day. Well, the shed is still there and so are the strawberries, in fact there’s more than ever, plus an ever increasing range of fresh produce as this idyllic stop under the trees has become an iconic image of summer in Hawke’s Bay.  Don’t forget to try the legendary fruit ice cream made on the premises.

Telegraph Hill Olivery: Mon – Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm, Summer Saturdays 10.00am – 3.00pm | 1279 Howard Street, Hastings Hawke’s Bay produces more olives and olive oil than any other region in New Zealand and Telegraph Hill are at the forefront of production of olives and oil. Their olivery ‘cellar door’ is a wonderful spot to stop if you’re a lover of all things olive. Try a selection of their various marinated olives, oils, dressings etc. All with the expert knowledge of Chantel, Adrienne or Sonya on hand to advise.

BEST TIP FOR FOODIES VISITING HAWKE’S BAY If you don’t have your own transport or just prefer to let a local take the lead for you, check out the sightseeing tours available on Bay Tours & Charters website. Be collected from your accommodation and taken around the best scenic sights and the best foodie spots in this abundant region. Book a tour online or call them on 0800 TOURHB to discuss any specific destinations you’d like to include in the day’s itinerary. They’ll do their best to include it in your tour.