If you’re heading over to New Zealand, whether it’s backpacking on a gap year or for a quick three week holiday, then Napier should definitely be on your list of places to visit. But are you stuck for things to do when you get there? Then look no further.
Art Deco Tour
Napier is a gorgeous little city. Not just because it’s hot and by the sea but because it has some stunning, Art Deco themed, buildings that have quickly become what Napier is known for. After the 1931 earthquake, the city began rebuilding and took a rather more modern approach to its architecture. As a result, thousands now flock to the city every year to check out the ‘Great Gatsby’ styled buildings, and even more visit in February every year to celebrate the Art Deco festival. If you have flexibility in your travel schedule then 10000% head over to Napier in the middle of March to see the whole town dressed in their 1920’s glad rags, the dozens of vintage cars that fill the streets and the festive entertainment that many locals take part in. It’s SUCH a great weekend that I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate twice, and therefore can vouch for the amount of fun that can be had.
You can do an Art Deco Tour around the city for between $19-21, or by a Self-Walk guide for $10. Both are a fab way to learn a bit more about the designs behind the buildings, and how drastically Napier has changed since the earthquake.
Foooood, Glorious Food! Let’s be honest here, one of the main things that I save my money for is for food. The definite ‘must do’s’ in my opinion in Napier are, firstly, Mister D’s for a doughnut, in which you can ‘inject’ your own filling(s) of choice. I think it’s only $6 for this too which is an absolute bargain. Oh, and the waiters are dishy in here too. Secondly, for a proper meal, Pipi’s in Havelock North is SO cute. This one is probably more for the girls as the building and decor is completely pink and glitzy with princess decor, and they only really do pizza’s. And wine. So pretty much the perfect place for any woman of any age, am I right? Pipi also have a pizza truck that can be hired out for events and whatnot. Whilst it is a wee drive from Napier to Havelock North, the great thing about New Zealand if you don’t have a car is the ease in which you can just hitchhike anywhere. So why not tick that one off the bucket list whilst you’re at it too?
Another idea for a lunch time is to pick up, or make yourself, a sandwich and sit and eat it by the Soundshell, on Marine Parade. It’s a beautiful lunch time spot, and afterwards you can just saunter along the waterfront and watch the waves wash onto the beach. I did this a couple of times and it’s guarenteed to leave you feeling like a film star being videoed for your next blockbuster.
Driving to all of the tourist bits would be a little tricky without a car, so it might be an idea to either rent a car for the day, or to hitch from place to place (be careful plz).
The main place to take a visit too would be Te Mata Peak. It’s a gorgeous mountain (?) with incredible views all over Hawkes Bay – legit you can see for so far, and I was taken up here when I first arrived in the Bay making it really easy for me to get my bearings. There are also a number of great walks to do over and around Te Mata Peak, varying in length, making it a great place to spend a couple of hours. The drive up is quite narrow, and some tourists get confused about which side of the road to drive on, so if you are driving up just be careful and stick to as far left as you can.
Another great place for a ‘sweet as’ view is Bluff Hill Lookout. Located right in the city it’s a great place to walk up to if you don’t have a car (although be warned, it’s a little steep!) and the lookout allows you to watch over the sea, watch the sunset behind the waves, and watch life go on in the streets of Napier below. It also gives you a great view of the port which is really interesting to sit and watch (yusss, I’m weird). The lookout wouldn’t be even nearly as impressive if the weather is naf, so only head up there if the sun is shining!
Okay, so this one is a little bit weird. I only really did this because it was the one thing left on TripAdvisor that I hadn’t done yet, and my friend Shannon had just arrived in NZ so we were looking for our first adventure. Cue Cape Kidnappers Gannet Tours. Essentially this is a REALLY early tour that takes you up to see the Gannets that live on Cape Kidnappers. For anyone that doesn’t know what a Gannet is, then they’re a really beautiful, exotic bird with a beautiful singing voice…not really. They’re like big seagulls, that make a truck load of noise and are really, really average to look at. The saving grace on this one is that, aside from the birds, the tour was fun! We took a tractor ride along the beach, checking out any marine life and learning about the rock formations that can be found along this part of the coast. And then we walked up from the beach to where the gannets live, which is along a really beautiful section of cliffs, making it a really enjoyable walk. It does cost $44 though… BookMe?
Hawkes Bay is well known for it’s wine, so hullooo wine tours! The best way to get around Napier and the wineries surrounding it is by bike – which would also make for a very entertaining afternoon may I add. I SO wish I had gotten around to doing this, but because I lived and worked with winemakers there wasn’t really a need. Maybe next time, eh? I’m not sure about the logistics for doing this either, but On Yer Bike Winery Tours could probably help you out there!
The other more obvious options to fill your time would be a trip the cinema, hot pools, Splash Plant (in summer), mini golf or Laserforce.
I really am a bit of a Napier advocate,as I think it is such a charming city full of character. So if you’re visiting the New Zealand for a few days then definitely head over, and let me know what you loved best on your visit!