Life as an F3 doctor in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Moving abroad as a junior doctor can be scary, so researching what to expect before you take a new job is top of the to-do-list. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Hawke's Bay in New Zealand - giving you the inside scoop to help you decide whether it would be a good fit for your F3 year in Australia or New Zealand.
Size: Hawke’s Bay is a large area surrounding a huge 100 km bay on the south-eastern side of the North Island.
Population: The total population of Hawke's Bay is 173,700. About 73,000 people live in the Hastings district, and 57,000 in the ‘twin’ city of Napier about 18 km / 11 miles away. The region's population is slightly older than the national average, with a higher proportion of Māori living there.
Weather: Whilst Hawke's Bay is a sunny region with most areas enjoying over 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, it also experiences variable and sporadic rainfall, and large and occasionally sudden temperature variations. Rainfall is particularly variable in the spring and summer when westerly winds prevail over the country. It is less windy than many other coastal areas of New Zealand, and consequently, a large number of frosts occur during the cooler months of the year.
Connectivity: It’s about 5½ hours’ drive from Auckland to Napier, or 4½ hours from Wellington.
Where is Hawke's Bay?
Hawke’s Bay is a region on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, and consists of a large semi-circular bay that extends for 100 kilometres from northeast to southwest from Mahia Peninsula to Cape Kidnappers. The major towns are Hastings and Napier.
For years, Hawke’s Bay was known as ‘New Zealand’s fruit bowl’ for its stone and pip fruit production. More recently, land use has diversified, especially into wine growing.
What is there to do in Hawke's Bay?
The iconic Art-Deco buildings, reliably sunny climate, great food and wine all combine to give Hawke’s Bay an attractive, almost Mediterranean lifestyle - so you won't feel too far from the home comforts of Europe on your F3 year abroad. Sport and culture are well catered for with facilities including a recently remodelled Opera House, museums, art galleries and sports arenas.
Indulge in Food and Wine Culture
Blessed with fertile soils and a warm, temperate climate, Hawke’s Bay is among New Zealand’s leading producers of wine; notably red wines – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah – and stunning chardonnays. Pair that with the fact that it is recognised the world over as a foodie's dream destination, and you suddenly you can feel your mouth watering. Hawke's Bay is home to F.A.W.C! (Food and Wine Classic) - a twice-yearly culinary festival that brings together the best on offer from across the region, along with some very special, invited guests.
Despite its small size, Hawke’s Bay punches well above its weight when it comes to places to eat and drink, and the café scene is extensive across each of the municipalities. To give you a bit of a flavour, here are a few of our favourites cafes in Hawke’s Bay:
Mister D, Napier: A cosy and contemporary space, with some of the best breakfast food in Napier. Try the famous (and indulgent) doughnuts, incredible coffee and hearty, avocado-filled, brunches.
Pixie Bowls, Havelock North: A converted garage is home to Havelock North's tiniest cafe and tastiest smoothie bowls, bagels and brews. Serving only the freshest local ingredients, this is also a great option for anyone with dietary requirements, as all the bowls are gluten free, dairy free and vegan-friendly. The Pixie Pot is a particular popular - a blend of oats, chia, flaxseed, cinnamon, buckwheat and apple served with coconut yoghurt, almond butter, fresh fruit & pixie dust - served warm in the winter, and cold in the summer.
Milk and Honey, Ahuriri: Located on the shores of Ahuriri point, Milk and Honey is a small café and eatery with some of the best views in the region. We love the Asian Mushroom omelette, served with house baked sourdough toast, or the Bao bacon butty - perfect if you are feeling fragile following a night on the town.
Enjoy Art Deco Architecture
A strong earthquake in 1931 destroyed many buildings in Hastings and particularly Napier. Rebuilt in the Art Deco and Spanish Mission architectural styles in vogue at that time, their unique character still draws enthusiasts from around the world. Year-round guided tours and vintage car rides are supercharged each February as tens of thousands flock to participate in the week-long Art Deco Festival. Examples of the region’s art deco architecture include the Daily Telegraph Building and Municipal Theatre in Napier, and the Hawke’s Bay Opera House in Hastings.
Street after street of stunning and beautifully-restored Art Deco buildings have made Napier famous as one of the most complete collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. You can read more our guide toNapier itself here.
Cycle (run or hike) the Hawkes Bay trail network
Stretching from Bay View in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the South, with Napier, Hastings, and Havelock North in between, the Hawkes Bay trail network follows a mix of dedicated cycle paths and quiet country roads. With almost endless route options covering 200km, from easy to ambitious, it’s a great way to reach many attractions while soaking up the scenery of the Pacific Ocean, winding rivers, orchards, vineyards and mountains. Plus there are plenty of cafes, country pubs and world-class wineries for refreshing stops on the way.
The Lake Waikaremoana walk is among New Zealand's nine Great walks. Over three to four days, it leads you through pristine rainforest, regenerating shrub land areas of wetland, rush and herb field, and a magical ‘goblin forest’. You will also discover magnificent rivers, waterfalls and ghostly valleys of mist. This is just one of twenty walking tracks in the Te Urewera Park. On Hawke’s Bay’s coastline, you can take in epic views across the water while trawling to numerous beautiful beaches. We also can’t go without mentioning the most popular peak in the region, Te Mata Peak, which draws hikers, mountain bikers and drivers alike.
Watch rockets go into Space
Reusable rockets, frequent launches and spectacular high-definition rocket videos aren't just the province of SpaceX any more. Rocket Lab, a private spaceflight company that provides launches for small satellites to Earth orbit, has a launch and rocket-processing facility in Hawkes Bay. South Islander Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, chose the very tip of the Mahia peninsula as the perfect spot for the world's first and only private commercial orbital launch site: Launch Complex 1. Rocket Lab now launches its Electron rockets several times a year, after its first successful launch of Humanity Star in January 2018.
How does the cost of living compare?
With New Zealand's biggest and most expensive cities (Auckland and Wellington) being considered among the cheapest in the developed world according to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2015, it is fair to say that Hawkes Bay is incredibly affordable for a junior doctor, compared the UK. Of course cities are always slightly more expensive than more rural regions, and so for the purposes of this article we have based the below costs on Napier, giving you a fair benchmark:
Housing: Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 sqft) furnished flat costs between £630 and £970, depending on location.
Transport: If you plan on doing lots of travel whilst away, it is probably worth investing in your own set of wheels. Obviously, the cost of this varies hugely depending on what you are looking for, but a simple but reliable runaround (like a 2009 Suzuki Swift) will set you back around £4,500 (with good resell value after only a year). A litre of petrol is only £1 (20-30p cheaper than in London). Feeling green and fit? A bike is another good option for getting around town.
Food: A basic lunchtime meal with a drink in the city costs around £7, with an evening meal for two in a neighbourhood pub costing around £20. A doctor's essential flat white or cappuccino comes in at a respectable £2.
What are the local hospitals?
Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, also known as Hawke’s Bay Hospital, in Hastings, is the main public health facility in the region. It is a large high-tech hospital with 364 beds, and is the regional centre for acute services. It has recently been refurbished and is a secondary care hospital serving a population of 150,000 in the Hawke’s Bay area.
Facilities at the new hospital include a six-theatre complex, a sterile services department, a day surgery facility, and an Intensive Care Unit. Refurbished facilities include the Emergency Department, a multi-storey block for Surgical and Medical Wards, and a Radiology Department.
Hawke’s Bay hospital is a teaching hospital for medical students of University of Otago who are studying at the Wellington Clinical School.
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