Turn from Page 19 and beaches, and olive groves where tourists can sample some of the finest oil in the world.
It is little wonder that around 3,500 people also have holiday homes there.
Our next adventure was a 45-minute flight from Auckland to Hawkes Bay on the east coast of North Island and home to the oldest wine-growing area in New Zealand. It has more than 70 vineyards, around 40 with cellar doors offering tastings and a-la-carte dining.
It also boasts a stunning coastline formed from soft, grey, papa rock said to be some 15 million years old, that is slowly being eroded by the sea, which makes the impressive and unusual cliffs.
Cape Kidnappers, a breathtaking headland, garnered its name after the Maori tried to kidnap one of Captain Cook''s crew in October 1769.
At Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve, home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world where Australasian gannets have nested since the 1870s, I was able to get up close to the thousands of birds quite unperturbed by human visitors.
After a day with the gannets, we visited Elephant Hill Estate Winery which boasts a stunning restaurant as well as world-class wines. Nestled in rolling green hills, it is one of the most unusual buildings in the area; square, flat-roofed with walls clad in copper panels which have turned a bluey green.
Our next stop was the city of Nelson, on the northern shores of South Island, and at just under a two-hour flight from Auckland or from Hawkes Bay, it is said to be at the very centre of New Zealand. …