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Napier [18] is a city (population 61,000) in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The city is famed for its Art Deco architecture, and contains the largest concentration of inner-city Art Deco buildings in the world. The other main attraction there is wine -- specifically from the wineries in Hawke's Bay, now New Zealand's second-largest wine-producing region behind Marlborough.


National Tobacco Company Ltd building in Napier

The 1931 Napier earthquake and a subsequent fire destroyed much of the downtown business area. When this area was rebuilt, it was reconstructed in the prevailing Art Deco style. Now it is the Art Deco capital of the world. The demolition rubble was dumped along the eastern foreshore and turned into gardens and a recreational reserve.

The earthquake also raised the land by several metres. The airport and low lying land in the industrial land of Onekawa and Pandora, and the suburbs of Pirimai and Tamatea were previously an estuary. Some of the streets in the area have retained the names they had when they were on the coastline - streets called a quay or a bay may be inland now.

The nearby township of Taradale has the regions oldest and most famous wineries that host concerts during the summer seasons.

Get in[edit]

By Car[edit]

State Highway 2 passes through the centre of Napier just outside the downtown area. This highway and its connections provide easy travel to many towns, tourist centers and scenic areas in the North Island.

By Plane[edit]

Hawke's Bay Airport is just north of town, near Westshore. Air New Zealand and Air Napier fly here, together providing direct flights to Auckland, Gisborne, Wellington and Christchurch.

By Bus[edit]

InterCity provides daily services in and out of Napier with connections throughout the North Island.

By Ship[edit]

Cruise ships dock at the Port of Napier, about 2 km north and west of the center of town. Cruise passengers are not allowed to walk off the ship into town. Instead, a free shuttle transports passengers from the ship to the i-SITE Visitor Centre on Marine Parade in the center of town. Return shuttles run every 15 to 20 minutes. Where the bus stops, there are a lot of locals offering various tours etc.

Get around[edit]

Once at the i-SITE Visitor Centre on Marine Parade in the center of town, anything that a visitor could desire in town is within a 15-minute walk, including varied attractions, banks, ATM's, Internet access, shopping and dining.

  • Taxi. Taxis are relatively inexpensive and can take you anywhere, anytime.
  • Bus. The public buses around Napier have improved in recent years but buses are not very frequent. It pays to grab a timetable in advance if you're looking to travel by bus. Information regarding bus fares, zones and timetables can be found on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council website [19].

See[edit][add listing]

Pania of the Reef
  • National Aquarium of New Zealand, 546 Marine Parade, [20] about a mile south of the city centre; Daily 9am - 5pm, last entry 4:30pm. Has a reef tank, a travelator which spirals its way beneath the Oceanarium, creating the impression of an underwater experience, and a typical New Zealand rocky shore environment. There are sharks, stingray and hundreds of fish species, many of them representative of the catches from along the East Coast. There are eels, sea horse, turtles, octopus, tropical marine fish, kiwi, tuatara, water dragons, frogs and crocodile also on display.
  • MTG Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery[21], 1 Tennyson St (and Marine Parade). Daily 10am - 5pm. Located an easy stroll across the road from the Soundshell and Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre.
  • Soundshell and Pania of the Reef. One of the most photographed landmarks in New Zealand, Pania is a figure of Māori mythology, and a symbol of Napier. She is located at the Soundshell on Marine Parade, a short stroll north of the city center. Pania is to Napier what the Little Mermaid is to Copenhagen.
  • Napier Prison Tours, 55 Coote Rd (go north on Marine Parade, and turn left onto Coote Rd. The Prison is the first driveway on the left, across from the Centenial Gardens), 06 835 9933, [1]. 9am-5pm. This is New Zealand's oldest prison and was opened in 1862. Shut down in 1993, during its history this site has hosted a prison, an insane asylum and orphanage. The prison is open daily for self-guided audio tours. Guided group tours are available if pre-booked. Scary night tours happen once a month and are only for people over 16 years old.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Hawke Bay Vineyard
Napier's beach

There are plenty of activities for the whole family. For a comprehensive guide on what activities are available, visit the i-SITE Visitor centre on the Marine Parade. There you will find maps, travel guides and directions and can book tours and transport.

  • Art Deco tour, [22]. Take a guided tour or buy a booklet ($7.50) at the Visitor Centre and give yourself a self-guided tour. Even a few blocks will take you past many of the most significant buildings that exemplify the style.
  • Art Deco Weekend. Visit Napier in February to experience the sights and sounds of Art Deco weekend. Dress up and eat at one of the picnics around the city, watch the soapbox derby or admire the vintage cars. [23]
  • Spend a day at the beach. The golden sanded southern Hawke's Bay beaches of Waimarama and Ocean Beach are located approximately 30 min south of Napier by car and are local retreats in the summer months. These long sandy beaches cater for surfing, fishing, and long walks to check out the native habitat.
  • Cape Kidnappers is at the southern tip of Hawke Bay where you will find a colony of Gannets. These Gannets migrate seasonally and are popular with tourists during the season. You can jump on a trailer towed by tractors to reach the Cape, run by a local business out of the small community of Te Awanga. Bookings and information about these tours are available from the information centre.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The main shopping areas in Napier are down Emerson Street, Dickens Street and in the nearby suburb of Taradale. As well as the usual franchise stores seen across most of New Zealand, Napier also has a handful of independent stores that can be found in the city centre.

  • Degas - Womens Clothing & Fashion Boutique, 35 Tennyson St, +64 6-835 7175, [2].  edit
  • Hawkes Bay Book And Music Exchange, 66 Dalton St, +64 6-835 4814.  edit
  • Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre (Souvenirs), 100 Marine Parade, +64 6-834 1911, [3].  edit
  • Opossum World, 157 Marine Parade, +64 6-835 7697, [4].  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Groove Kitchen Espresso, 112 Tennyson St, +64 6-835 8530, [5].  edit
  • Friends, 49 Marine Parade, +64 6-835 1018.  edit
  • Hot Chick Restaurant, 4 Hardinge Rd, Ahuriri, +64 6-835 9595, [6].  edit
  • Raffles Cafe, 72 Raffles St 4110, +64 6-835 8245, [8].  edit
  • Ujazi Cafe, 28 Tennyson St, +64 6-835 1490, [9].  edit
  • Puketapu Restaurant and Bar (Puketapu Hotel), 679 Puketapu Rd, Puketapu, +64 6-8447206, [10]. Traditional country pub with a restaurant and bar near Napier. Originally built in the 1800s. Situated in the middle of Hawkes Bays bike tracks, ideal for a cycle break. Open 11am to close Tue to Sun and 3pm to close on Mon.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Shed 2, +64 6-835 2202, [11].  edit Was the first establishment on the atmospheric West Quay, Ahuriri. Step inside and you step back 125 years, for the converted storage shed goes right back to the days the square-riggers tied up just metres from its front deck.
  • Speights Alehouse, 60 West Quay, Ahuriri, +64 6-834 1188, [12].  edit The only bar in the bay serving all seven of Dunedin's Speights brewery's beers on tap, from top-seller Speight's Gold through to the crafted pilsner, pale ale, porter, old dark and a seasonal ale.
  • Thirsty Whale Bar & Restaurant, 62 West Quay, Ahuriri, +64 6-835 8815 ‎, [13].  edit Facilities include outdoor decking, big screen TV's, private bar, and mezzanine restaurant with sea views.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation is abundant in Napier and the surrounding area and ranges from luxury to budget; hotels, self-catering apartments, motels and lodges (some with restaurants), homestay; holiday parks and motor camps with self-catering units, budget cabins and campsites. Families and groups welcome at most establishments; seasonal and group discounts may apply. It pays to book in advance due to regional events like Art Deco weekend. Accommodation can be scarce during these events.

Just north of Napier past the airport is Esk Valley. This area is now mainly orchard, vineyards and a lavender farm. It is peaceful but only 10 minutes from the bars and restaurants of Napier. It is a good place to experience New Zealand country life or stay on a vineyard. There are numerous accommodation options including Esk Valley Lodge which is a renovated house of character formed from one of the original homesteads in the valley.

  • Criterion Backpackers, 48 Emerson St, +64 6 835-2059, [14]. Art Deco hostel, central location. $25 and up.  edit
  • Esk Valley Lodge, 342 Hill Rd, +64 6 836-7904, [15]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Boutique bed and breakfast in gardens and vineyard 15 minutes north of Napier $150-220. (-39.4024,176.8561) edit
  • Quality Inn Napier, 311 Marine Parade, (64) 6 835 3237, [16]. From standard, superior and deluxe studios, to two bedroom apartment suites.  edit
  • Edgewater Motor Lodge, 359 Marine Parade, (64) 6 835 1148, [17]. Affordable motel accommodation with sea views close to the city centre. Sky TV, free Wi-Fi, tea/coffee facilities or full kitchen units, free parking.  edit

Get out[edit]

The town of Taradale is 10min drive and the city of Hastings is close by. Taupo is a two hour drive away, and Napier is Hawke's Bay's gateway to the central and northern North Island

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