Napier sits stylishly on a sweep of coast, its Art Deco buildings and Norfolk Pines giving it a period feel. Take a turn along Marine Parade, visit the Sound Shell and the famous “Pania of the Reef” statue, and feel yourself drawn back into seaside holidays of the past.
The landscape of Napier changed drastically in 1931, when a huge earthquake hit the area. Find out all about this devastating event at the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Exhibition Centre. The city centre was completely rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the time, making it architecturally unique. Every February Napier’s famous Art Deco weekend sees the city pull out all the stops to celebrate the era, with over 200 events, vintage cars, aerobatics, and a slew of costumed events and concerts.
There is much to delight in, beyond the deco heritage. Visit the National Aquarium, NZ’s largest display of aquatic life along with native creatures, you’ll see sharks, all manner of fish species, kiwi, tuatara and more. Soak in the open air hot pools down by the sea, climb Te Mata Peak for fantastic views, head to Cape Kidnappers for gannets or golf, or survey the dramatic scenery with glass in hand at one of the region’s famous vineyards. A wine lover’s delight and a foodie’s dream, this area is home to over 70 wineries and is New Zealand’s oldest wine-making region. For a delicious taste of the modern, try out some of the excellent winery restaurants, and innovative eateries, such as Pacifica Restaurant or Mr D. Hawke’s Bay boasts a “Mediterranean climate” - great for producing delicious wines and wonderful fruit. Head to the Farmer’s Market on Lower Emerson St, every Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. to stock up on the best fresh, local produce.
If the weather’s good, rent or borrow a bike, and try the Hawke’s Bay Trails, part of the NZ Cycle Trail project. Over 180kms of mainly flat and scenic cycle path stretch around and between Napier and Hastings. Ride as much or as little as you like, and take in rivers, coast or wineries.
Where to stay
What to do
- See the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers
- Cycle the flat, scenic trails around Hawke’s Bay
- Take a winery tour
- Visit the National Aquarium
- Explore the city’s art deco history
- Climb Te Mata Peak