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Napier & Hawkes Bay Travel Guide

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If you talk to your friends about how great NZ wine is then you are probably going to want to visit Hawkes Bay & Napier, NZ premium wine growing region. As you approach the Hawkes Bay region you start to drive along long (and we mean long) and wide roads where each side of the road is either an orchard or a vineyard. The beautifully flat plains along with its Mediterranean style climate (the temperature in Napier was 32 degrees whilst we were there!) makes this region the destination for wine, relaxation, a spot of cycling and a bit of beach hopping.

The city of Napier is a waterfront city renowned for it’s 1930s Art Deco architecture it is like stepping back in time! The city has a splendor of Art Deco Buildings along a long stretch of promenade following the beach.

We last visited Napier over 8 years so we were keen to revisit and see what had changed.

Don’t forget to watch our video of our time spent in this beautiful region, we had the best weather and had a blast!

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post we recently visited Napier whilst visiting family that live in the region. We have been twice now since our time in NZ and all views are based on our observations and experiences.

Napier Accommodation Options:

Napier has an array of different accommodation options for all types of budgets. We camped both times we visited this region (towards Cape Kidnappers) but we came across a small suburb of Napier this time around called Ahuriri. We thought this would be a great location to recommend to our reader, far enough away from the city that you aren’t in the actual hustle and bustle but close enough that you can drive too. Ahuriri has a lovely beachfront café and bar culture and a good safe, family friendly vibe about it. They even had freedom camping spots available at the car park!

Things to do in Napier:

Napier Waterfront, Beaches & Art Deco Buildings:

Napier Marine Parade

Beautiful Gardens at Napier’s Marine Parade

We were impressed with how much the promenade has expanded and developed since we were last here. Along the waterfront which is also home to a long stretch of beach you will find beautiful shady gardens, incredibly well constructed Art Deco Buildings, a children’s park, a skate park, a mini-golf club, a safe place for the kids to ride their bikes, walking tracks, fitness apparatus, and a outdoor swimming pool. We have probably missed something but trust us when we say there really is something for everyone along the Marine Parade and we are lead to believe it’s not even completed yet!

Te Mata Peak:

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak You Beauty

A drive out to Te Mata Peak is a must. You can’t even explain how those hills were formed, think hobbit hills times a hundred! On a clear day all, you can see if hills for as far as the eyes can see. We went up at sunset when it was a little bit quieter and it really was quite magical.

Bluff Hill Viewpoint:

bluff hill napier

Tree loving at Bluff Hill Lookout

This is the lookout point between Ahuriri and Napier’s Marine Parade. It’s worth going up here as you can see the whole of Hawkes Bay and you can get your bearings of the region whilst up here.

Napier Wineries:

Craggy Range

Craggy Range

Visiting some of Napier’s wineries is a must whilst you are in the region. Along Marine Parade you will see a lot of shops offering cycling hire. This is because the region is very flat and cycling to the vineyards is a good afternoon activity to take part in. Most of them are self-guided (they give you a map!) but some are guided – we reccommend this one. Our two favourite vineyards in the region have to be Craggy Range (simply for its view of Te Mata Peak) and Mission Estate (they do the best Pinot Noir).

MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum & Theatre Galley:

This is a museum based along the Marine Parade (of course!) in central Napier. It certainly is a good rainy day activity, on the bottom floor you can learn and watch videos/ see photos of the historic 1931 earthquake that hit the city. It really is quite incredible to see how they restored the city after the tragedy. We only popped in for half an hour (to escape the heat!) but we would certainly return. Oh, and it is also free to enter, who doesn’t like free!

Cape Kidnappers:

We have never been to Cape Kidnappers, so can’t comment too much on this! But if you’re into nature and want to visit a Seal Colony it’s worth the excursion. You can’t get here your self though (well you can, you can walk the beach but we got told it’s 5 hours one way) so a tour is required. It’s certainly up there on the NZ must do list!

Don’t Miss – Napier’s Art Deco Festival:

Napier Art Deco Festival

Yes, he did read the book the whole time.

And if you visit in February (like we did in 2010) then make sure you visit during Napier’s annual Art Deco Festival. This is when the whole city comes alive, and it truly is like stepping back in time! The whole street is lined with 1930’s classic cars, people are dressed for the occasion and in the evening the street party begins! We had no idea this festival was happening when we visited 8 years ago, but we danced the night away in our poor attempt of 1930’s fancy dress and had a blast!

Napier Art Deco Festival

Evening Street Party at Napier Art Deco Festival

Enjoy Guys!

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