One of my favourite things to do in Napier is take a wine tour. This is something that you can book through the Information Centre and go by bus or you could rent a bike and do it that way. What I usually do is drive my own car to the various vineyards. This of course means that you can't drink too much wine but it is nice to be able to get to some of the more out of the way vineyards.
Some famous vineyards include: Mission Estate, Craggy Range and Church Road.
The National Aquarium is situated on Marine Parade, about a kilometre from the city centre. The building is quite a unique piece of modern architecture, resembling a giant areoplane wing, but probably meant to be a big grey whale or dolphin! There is a statue (pictured) of fisherman at the northern end, well worth a moment of your time.
The aquarium, by world standards, is tiny. The biggest attractions are a crocodile and enchanting sea turtles that will captivate you as they glide around their rather small tank. The kids will probably enjoy this attraction more than the adults, but at NZ$13 for 'the olds' it's not too bad a price to pay for a one hour diversion from the outside attractions in Napier.
There is a kiwi house here as well, where you can watch our nation's nocturnal icon digging for food or generally just looking cute (yes, Kiwi do look cute with their cat like whiskers and soft looking fur-like feathers!).
We visited this on our second day, partially because we were curious what all the fuss was about.
It stands aloud on the Napier waterfront, with a broad curved roof designed by Warren & Mahoney (who subsequently won a prize for it), and appears on all the tourist books and posters you see dotted around town, so alas, we paid it a visit.
I would however, much more recommend the MarineLand down the road for entertainment, as this is no more an amazing aquarium than any other you have ever been to. Besides being a tad on the pricey side, it only has ONE shark - which in truth is the thing that really beefed me. Having a logo, and an image of a shark kingdom - it has one measely shark that you could almost miss if you werent paying attention.
Ok, it has a cool conveyor-belt thing that takes you round a short while under the main tank, and you can also watch a guy with scuba gear on jump in and feed the fish, but thats where the excitement ends. A fair bit of cash for only about 40mins "entertainment", and youre outside thinking "my god, was that it?"
Actually the funiest part of it all is the best thing we saw was the Kiwi enclosure - and its an aquarium!! Ya, they have a dark room where they keep some kiwis - and after youre eyes have adjusted, you can see them running about. Its actually quite cool. And its not mentioned anywhere in the publicity!
Of all the things to do in Napier, particularly if you have limited time, you have to make sure you get to the Art Deco Tour. Its pretty cheap, normally several tours run each day, and the tours are all run by volunteers - and believe they know what theyre talking about when it comes to Napier and its history!! Its so refreshing to see so many people so enthusiastic about their town, and keen to tell the world about it!
The tours kick off from different places, but you can find out all the info from the Information Centre (naturally!) or the Deco Centre (which is the official base for all Art Deco tours around the city). Our tour started at the Soundshell on Marine Parade, and took us around all the streets in the centre, finishing at the Deco Centre itself for refreshments and an interesting video on the famous earthquake, and more info on what Art Deco actually is, and where you can spot it in and around the city. I thoroughly recommend, and the whole jazz is run by very friendly people who are happy to answer any plaguing questions, and generally there to make you feel welcome.
The Deco Centre also has a good gift shop - so i also recommend this as THE place to get you souvenirs - from Deco posters to Deco Tablemats (uck!)
Bluff Hill is a very pituresque spot on top of a mound overlooking Napier and pretty much the rest of southern Hawkes Bay, as well as the busy docking bay (pictured).
Id say its a good way to kill half hour, and you can take a few photos from the top, or simply chill out. We took some snacks up there and gazed out into the Pacific Ocean...
Im a bit sceptical about paying normally-hiked prices to see animals in captivity, but we couldnt stay away after we heard about MarineLand on Marine Parade.
We went along hoping to feed the dolphins but as every tour was booked, we opted to much cheaper option of feeding the penguins - which as a result i assumed would be mediocre. But how wrong i was! We both enjoyed the tour, even if we did come out smelling of fish! After you initially have to don a very-striking red top to warn all the seagulls and sea animals that you are the target for their poop (or so it seemed!!), we headed to the pelican enclosure. I should mention here that nearly all of the birds, seals, penguins, etc. in MarineLand are either injured, bred from new born, or just wont swim back into that big wide ocean next door.
Feeding the penguins is fun, and you each get to hold one while the guide explains all about individual characterisitics and other interesting facts about the penguin.
The feed was followed by much ice cream (for us! hehe), and a dolphin show (which was a little extra $$). The dolphins completed various jumps and impressive somersaults, and i would recommend this as well for all ages!
Napier has an attractive shopping centre with lots of nice shops and some shopping arcades.
‘Down town’ is must more pleasant than in many other cities in New Zealand. They succeeded in creating a more or less pedestrian area with lots of side walk café’s.
It is just fun to browse around. Off course one of the highlights when shopping and interested in art deco is the Art Deco Shop.
The main shopping streets are: Emerson Street, Hastings Street and Dalton Street.
This beautiful building, perhaps the most iconic art deco building in the world, is situated a little bit outside the centre of Napier. More or less hidden behind Bluff Hill in a neighbourhood called Ahuriri, close to the port.
It was the office building of The national Tobacco Company, now British American Tobacco.
We were able to take a look in the hall inside the building. If still possible watch carefully for the art deco details.
The building has been designed by J.A. Louis Hay in the year of 1933, two years after the devastating earth quake.
Best thing to do is to get a brochure, either at the office of the Visitor Information Centre (Marine Parade) or The Art Deco Shop (Tennyson Street). So it is easy to walk along the many art deco buildings in the city centre. When we did this unguided tour there were 89 buildings mentioned in the text of the brochure.
Some of the buildings are open for public and it is easy to take a look inside.
The walk is about 1 ½ km long.
There are also daily guided walks through this charming town (see website).
this is basically a place where production of sheepskins is carried out. the sheep are sheared, the skins are washed, processed, graded and then turned into many different useful items like clothing, boots and decoratives. each visitor gets a patch of sheepskin for a souvenir at the end and you can choose the colour of it. you could also buy the souvenirs at a cheap price for relatives and friends. this is an ideal place to travel to if travelling with little children and kids because they can see for themselves how sheepskins are made into some of the items they see on the shelf in shops.
this is a winery located in Hawke's Bay. it was a pretty cool place the people showed us how they made wine stored it in cellars and huge barrels. at the end of the day we got to taste the different wines......i didn't really like the dinner wine......it was a tad too sweet! ugh!
one of Hawke Bay's best orchards.......the guide was very friendly and took us around the orchard in his buggy truck. He let us feed his pet donkey and goats with apples and gave us very detailed information about the fruits grown in the orchard. We got to get down the truck and see closer the fruit trees. they also allowed us to pluck a few of the ripe fruits. all in all, it was a very enjoyable trip. :D
if staying at the te pania hotel..........you can relax by just taking a walk at the beautiful beach just across the road. the sand is dark....the weather is cooling....one could just take a short nap on shore!
Enjoy a relaxing soak in the salt-water hot pools situated on Napier's Marine Parade. With a variety of outdoor pools to choose from, including 2 very large spa pools that overlook the ocean, it's a great place for young and old. There are also private spa rooms, massage therapy, a sauna, a steam room, and a sunbed. Open from 6am (8am Sundays and public holidays) till 10.00pm.
Be sure to walk around the city, looking up and down. Many of the streets are marked with the names tiled in the ground, and there are tons of "art deco" style building facades.
There is also a guided tour that leaves fom the Deco Center on Tennyson.