Napier is a city along the Hawke’s Bay Region, which was rebuilt after an earthquake and fire in February 1931 (Napier Earthquake) in just a few years almost entirely in Art Deco. One need not be a fan or connoisseur to admire this unique style, and in this city, there is so much of it in a confined space than anywhere else in the world. If you attend the yearly Art Deco Festival (held every third week of February), there is a hive of activities to do in this charming Art Deco town with many beautifully restored historic buildings.
The glistening features of the structures are presented in a brilliant manner. Along the road you will see countless vintage cars and a historic steam train with costumed passengers. You will meet strolling, cheerful people who are always ready for a little picture posing in gorgeous Art Deco costumes. This annual festival borders on the stylish, elegant, and adorable celebration of Napier and its history. Be sure to witness this grand event when in Napier.
When To Go:
The best time to visit Napier City is during the season of summer, which starts from December until the last week of February. This is the best time to go outdoors and where the maximum daytime temperature ranges from 20°C to 30°C. The radiation index around this time is too high and people are advised to wear sunscreen, shades, and wide hats.
Winter (June – August) is also a good time to see the city and when the temperature ranges from 10°C to 15°C. The city can be visited all year round, but if you are not comfortable with rainy and monsoon temperatures, it is advisable to check the weather status of the city before planning your vacation time in Napier.
Here are the best attractions and things to do in the city of Napier…
Art Deco Trust
The whole seaport town is presented in this style, which was rebuilt after the earthquake that devastated the city. The tour of the Art Deco Trust is worth it if you enjoy this style of construction. This program is free and the location is close to the beach. There are several shops around where you can stop for lunch and a drink. The city center is very cute and lined with old buildings that are all well maintained!
All the houses here were built in the same way as when the earthquake came, each anniversary of the earthquake, the people get dressed in what was the fashion statement when time stood still back from more than 100 years ago. The Art Deco Trust offers guided bus, walk- and bicycle tours. There are also some good brochures for a tour on your own. There’s a store that sells everything related to the 1920s; be sure to check out this site when in Napier. It is excellent for walking and observe everything in a leisurely manner to enjoy the striking charm of the place. One of the common things to do is to buy an ice cream and walk unhurriedly through this beautiful area!
Te Mata Peak
is where you can have a great view of Napier City. There are various walking and cycling routes. The views are breathtaking, though the access road is very narrow and just fit 2 cars. It is not suitable for those suffering with altitude problems. After a winding road up by car, you need to go through some cliffs until you reach the top and the highest point of the region, the Te Mata Peak. It has amazing views, and if the day is sunny, it’s even better. If you stop in Havelock North, it is absolutely easy to reach the Te Mata Peak and you will have a stunning 360 degree view of the area.
If you are a fan of mountain biking, there are spectacular descents that are un-missable. Otherwise there are also many paths for walkers of all categories with the family or individual. But if the biking or walking activity is not what you prefer, you can drive up and enjoy the view from the summit. You need to be careful when you drive; it’s a beautiful place, which is accessed by a winding road. This should definitely not be missed and a hiking trail is a must!
is a beautiful boulevard with a very pleasant walk along the promenade where you can observe the sea on one side and the road with trees on the other side. The Promenade is unmissable, and it is not difficult to reach because it is almost at the center of the city. There are lots of fun things to do such as; play in the fun park, take pictures at the gardens, and dine in the cafés. The playground is ideal for families. For couples travelling without children, there are quieter locations. Who loves endless sandy beaches will feel very comfortable here. On both sides of the city, the Hawkes Bay extends with its endless and deserted sandy beaches. Along the Marine Parade you have the choice between the beach promenade and the beach. There is a music stage, a children’s playground, a skating rink and lots of places to settle for a beer, a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the mostly sunny weather in Napier.
Marine Parade is one of the best places to see in Napier, it is a nice place to walk and has a beautiful promenade. The city center is in close proximity to the shore. Various hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist information office, i-site, are here. For this reason, all roads lead here (traffic is normal), and tourists can not miss it. The promenade is separated from the ocean by the wide strip of shingle beach. If you come during the peak of the summer season, the waves are large, but the skies are clear with warm weather. If it is not safe to bathe, you can bask in the sun or just stroll, sit, observe the natural beauty of Napier.
Bluff Hill Lookout
is a nice viewpoint platform over the harbor area of this seaport town. It is a short drive from downtown Napier and located at the top of Bluff Hill. It provides a panoramic view of the harbor with great storage containers and tree trunks for shipment to other places. The winding road to the top is worth a picture. The view of the harbor activity in itself is nice and there are scenic views over the city or the countryside. It is a challenging ride to go up, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views. Be sure to visit at sunset to produce beautiful pictures about Napier. In spring time, it has a breathtaking scene of the snow capped mountains, flowers everywhere, and fresh breeze coming from the ocean.
Driving in the tortuous and narrow Bluff Hill is the price to pay for a great view of the Bay especially on a beautiful clear day one can see a good distance. Take full advantage of this exceptional location on the city, the port, and its surroundings. There is also a possibility of working from the bottom of the hill to the top (or vice versa). It is great for those who want to relax and enjoys the fabulous sights. If you go on foot, the climb is intense, but if you’re not used to walking it is strongly suggested to arrange for a transport. From this point, admire the landscape while sitting on benches or simply lie on the grass and relax.
New Zealand Wine Center
is a very good center for tasting and get an overview of the city. The center consists of two major features that is very original and well implemented. The first is a tour of its so called center of “odors”, depending on the model of “Lenoir” a room where even children (10 and 11) can enjoy solving puzzles, which can be fun as a family or group activity.
The second part features a tasting of 5 wines of the Hawke’s Bay area which takes place in a video room with a big screen and a simultaneous presentation of the vineyards and wineries of wines tasted. Even if children do not taste the wine, they are interested in the film showing and history of the city. This approach to the wine tour and wine tasting is well liked by guests and very educational.
Moana Park Winery
is a simple winery with very modest presentation. The wine tasting experience is accompanied by a selection of snacks like; cheese, grapes, nuts, etc. They have a very small range of wines for tasting, but it is worth a visit. The winery is owned and operated by a young couple with innovative ideas and a wine with a great future.
It is set in a nice location just outside of Napier when going westward. All of the staff is friendly and the whole winery leaves a good impression. You can get a small bottle of dessert wine as a souvenir to take home. Their wines can only be bought exclusively here and unobtainable even in the large liquor stores around Napier City.
Mission Estate Winery
successfully combines the qualities of an excellent winery and restaurant. The winery is in a privileged place. It is a very beautiful location and the restaurant has a lovely view. The food has European influences and being a restaurant owned by the winery, you can order wine by the glass, paired with a perfect dish.
It is one of the most renowned wineries in Napier (it is about 5 km from the city). The central building is well maintained and looks like an old style house. The wine selection is good, but beware: getting drunk is really easy, especially because the tastings are free!
Church Road Winery
has a welcoming atmosphere, but above all, exceptional wines. Wine tasting is a required step in this magical place that is full of flavors and interesting anecdotes about wine production in this city. Their vineyard produces the best Pinot Black on this side of North Island. The head of the guide is very friendly and ready to provide information about everything (even her father has long worked for Church Road). It is about 10 minutes by car from the Napier center. The tasting itself is of course a matter of taste, the outdoor lunch is fashionable, but guests absolutely loved the seven Pinot Gris selections.
Although the tour does not require any advance reservation, it is better to have a prior confirmation regarding the time of your visit to fully enjoy the tour of the vineyard and wine production. The Church Road Winery tour includes a visit to the Barrel Area, where you can see wines stored in large wooden barrels or stainless steel. Wedding events can be held in their stylish event room and there is also a short visit to their wine museum. After watching the process of the production of wine, you can look at the wine museum in the semi-basement. In this museum, you can find and photos from the old days of this winery, its history, and the original process for the preparation of their wine in the early times. When the tour is over, you can taste some of the wine.
Napier National Aquarium
Swimming with the sharks (with a trained guide and diver) is just one of the unforgettable experiences here in the Napier National Aquarium. You can observe them and spend a few millimeters and sometimes even touch their ailerons (fin part). It is indeed a fantastic experience! Moreover, the diving instructors can take beautiful shots and a good souvenir picture with their underwater camera. Do not hesitate it is safe and amazing!
The aquarium is equipped with a glass tunnel where you can walk literally inside the tanks, along with the sharks and stingrays. It is a small aquarium where you can see penguins, kiwis, stingrays, turtles, seahorses, and other interactive features that are designed for children and adults. The Napier National Aquarium tour is very interesting, educational, and fun! The aquarium is much bigger inside than it looks from the outside. There are several wings with very different and interesting fish. The diving with sharks is kind of expensive ($ 70), but it’s worth it!
MTG Hawke’s Bay
is a charming museum, it is not a big one, but they have nice art selections bordering on the old and the contemporary. The movie about the 1931 earthquake is impressive. All in all, it is a beautiful museum with diverse exhibition and a detailed account of Napier’s tragic history from the time it was levelled flat by earthquake and fire. Particularly interesting is the reconstruction done to the city after the disaster. The views of Napier City from the top floor is also nice.
provides an excellent river rafting trips and outdoor activities that offer good opportunities to know the hinterland of Napier. The tour of the fantastic scenery is coupled with fun and games. Gwyn, John, and Kelly are professional river tubing guides and you will always feel safe with having them around during the entire course of the river tubing adventure.
It is also the ideal choice to discover the beautiful landscapes of Napier. Despite the cold and cold feet, it is incredibly fun and worth trying again. It is managed by nice people and the adventurous trail is complemented by beautiful surroundings.
Napier Prison Tours
is an informative tour of the prison cells in Napier. It has lots of good information and descriptive panels on the walls. The tour is very interesting, with a duration of about one hour and thirty minutes. The only downside is, the prison was turned into a hostel a few years ago, and there are still vestiges of this time, the detached mirrors in cells, apparent traces of glue, several water leaks, and the block cells. The audio guided tour is one of the positive sides of this place because it takes you to a real plunge into the prison world during the early times in Napier.
Frequent travellers have a wrong impression that in Napier, there is not much to do and see. This is certainly untrue. There are not only many things to discover (and this is the purpose of any trip) but above all, highly recommended is the beautiful ride along the Pacific Ocean in Napier. It is full of flowers, artwork, pretty houses, orchards, wineries, hiking and biking trails, and a superb landscape. The beauty of the city is undeniable as it faces the great ocean. The waterfront is a bit anonymous and gives particular emotions over a haunting and gorgeous view of the bay. Take a breath of fresh sea air; visit a number of shops, cafes and restaurants. Napier is definitely a must see when in the territory of North Island, New Zealand.