A weekend at John’s House Trupti Biradar
Escapes the chaos of the big smoke to retreat to the country in rural Havelock North.
The sun was setting and, except for the few birds that twittered around in the trees, there was silence. We sat on the deck, sipping rose and watching the sky turn shades of orange and purple. And suddenly, just like that, the anxiety and stress of big city life was gone. It’s worth escaping to the tranquility of our smaller towns every now and then.
Hawke’s Bay is home to some of the world’s finest wine, stunning examples of art deco architecture, redwood forests, cycle trails, and everything else you could want for a quiet, yet refreshing weekend getaway.
Tucked away in rural Havelock North, a pretty little suburb of Hastings, this sprawling 2.2-hectare property comprises two separate holiday homes – John’s House and The Pavilion, as well as the residential property of the owners Nick and Jude.
Named after Nick’s father, John Pattison, and the architect John Scott, our home for the weekend – John’s House – is an architectural gem that looks on to a massive garden lush with a mix of native, exotic and fruit trees. Nearby sheep and cattle graze in the pasture.
Pattison, a spitfire pilot in World War II, who survived the battle of Britain and being shot down three times, lived here from 1917 to 2009. He was a sheep and beef farmer before retiring in 1990, and little homages to his life are dotted around the property.
There’s ample space – two bedrooms and an adjoining room that together can comfortably sleep around 10 people, two bathrooms, a large living room, kitchen and plenty of outdoor space. All amenities are provided for, including towels, linen and eco-friendly toiletries.
The morning we check in, Jude welcomed us, armed with some homemade bread still warm from the oven, and her signature homemade muesli. The pantry is well-equipped with basic cooking supplies, as well as fresh eggs, milk, jams and preserves.
Alessandro’s pizzeria (alessandrospizzeria.co. nz) is a short, scenic walk along the Karamu stream running by the property. And it’s well worth the time to go there. The thin-crust, woodfired pizzas were among the best we’ve had. Along Havelock Rd you’ll find plenty of other restaurants and cafes.
There’s no UberEats in Hawke’s Bay but we did manage to use the Menulog app to order an abundance of Indian food from a restaurant nearby. It was tasty but nothing special. Handy if you just want a night in to enjoy the property.
Worth stepping out for
You’re in the oldest wine region in New Zealand, and the second largest after Marlborough so it would be rude not to sample what’s on offer. There are 70 wineries and 30 cellar doors in this region and many are just a two-minute drive from this property. Try the region’s famous syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon at Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery. We chose Elephant Hill for a tasting and cheese platter. The panoramic views out to Cape Kidnappers are unparalleled.
For another iconic view, head up to the 399 metre Te Mata Peak. From the viewing platform on the top there’s a pretty special 360 degree view. You can see out to Napier and Mahia Peninsula and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges. On a clear day you can see as far as Mt Ruapehu.
There are plenty of walking and cycling tracks and a spectacular Redwoods forest nearby.
Also worth a stop is the local farmers’ market – we sampled the best dosa and curried potato we’ve tasted this side of the world.
There are plenty of stalls with delicious food and produce. Don’t miss the walnut brittle from Maud & Harry’s Walnut Company. It’s a great way to spend any afternoon.
There’s no doubt that this house is a beautiful space, tucked away in a tranquil haven, but what really sets it apart are the little touches of hospitality provided by the owners. Nick popped by the moment there was a slight chill in the air, firewood tucked under his arm. In minutes he had a roaring fire going.
On Sunday, after the sun reappeared, Nick spent the day as our unofficial tour guide, taking us through the wineries, up to Te Mata Peak, then on to the farmers’ market for lunch. He had a wealth of knowledge and was a pleasure to spend the day with.
Jetstar and Air New Zealand both fly to Hawke’s Bay Airport.
John’s House is available to rent on airbnb.co.nz/ rooms/1374954 for $435 a night if you’re one person. But this turns into a somewhat more affordable $1015 a night if you’re checking in with 10 guests, making this a great option for a large group.
The writer paid for her own flight but was hosted by Airbnb.
John’s House is a beautiful property tucked away in rural Havelock North.
The property can easily fit 10 people.
The interior is bright, spacious and comfortable.
The Karamu Stream runs behind the property.
It’s a tranquil spot, and the house features a large outdoors area.