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15 Best Things to do in Napier (New Zealand)

15 Best Things to do in Napier (New Zealand)

Napier is located on the eastern coast of the North Island in New Zealand. The city serves as the seat of the Hawke’s Bay region and is known for its sunny climate and impressive Art Deco architecture.

Napier is sometimes referred to as the “Nice of the Pacific”. It has a population of around 66,700 people. In addition to its Art Deco architecture, the city of Napier and the surrounding area is known for their wool, wine, and fruit production. 

Take in the Views from Bluff Hill

Bluff Hill is known for being an amazing viewing point situated just inland of Napier’s harbor area. The views all around the area are marvelous due to the intriguing mix of ocean, greenery, and the city streets of Napier.

Coming here is great not just for the views but also for the footpaths that stretch all around the gardens of the hill. You can experience beautiful nature here despite being right in the center of a major city.

Bluff Hill

Napier Prison

Napier Prison is considered New Zealand’s oldest prison and is today serving as one of the city’s most interesting visitor attractions. There are tours on offer that lead you through the historic facilities including an old quarry in which the inmates were forced to work.

Visitors will be lead along eery areas like the hanging yard or a torture chamber but there is also plenty of fun to be had here as the former prison offers you a chance to put on prisoner clothes and get your photo taken.

Apart from the regular prison tour, there are also kids tours on offer as well as spooky ghost tours.  

Napier Prison

Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market

If you are looking for an interesting market you can head to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market south of Napier. It is open during the weekends and offers fresh food from the region sold by the farmers themselves.

The market offers much more than delicious fruits and vegetables, there are also many fun activities on offer such as pony riding and live-music making it a great attraction for the whole family.

Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market

Art Deco Tour

The city’s Art Deco Trust offers very fascinating walking tours of Napier that focus on all the Art Deco treasures worth exploring here. If you’re interested in architecture, this is a tour that I can highly recommend. 

The reason why the Art Deco style of architecture is so popular in Napier is due to a devastating earthquake and fire in 1931 in which most of the city was destroyed.

Due to the popularity of Art Deco in the 1930s, most of the houses were rebuilt in this unique style and today’s city streets still testify to this. There are different tours available depending on how much time you want to spend exploring this interesting heritage.

art deco napier

Photo: hal pand / Shutterstock.com

Mohaka River

Mohaka River is a great place for rafting and there are many tour operators in Napier that offer day trips to the river and its natural surroundings full of lush forests.

There are many beautiful rock formations and cliffs along the river as well as a great waterfall. What’s best about the Mohaka River is that it offers rafting and kayaking in all difficulties. There are spectacular grade 5 rapids as well as slow areas that are suitable for beginners.

Mohaka River

Otatara Pa Historic Reserve

Otatara Pa Historic Reserve is located on Napier’s southern edge and offers a glimpse of New Zealand’s pre-colonial past as it showcases the traditional archaeological sites of the Māori people that once lived here.

There is a round walk located on the site which stretches over 1.6 km and offers fantastic views of the coastline. The site used to serve as an important fortification in ancient times and it is easy to imagine how the warriors of the past lived and fought here.    

Otatara Pa Historic Reserve

Waipatiki Beach

Waipatiki Beach is located around 35 km north of Napier and is a real natural marvel that is great for relaxing in the warm sun of New Zealand’s summer. The beach is surrounded by large cliffs and feels very rugged and natural.

There is a beach pavilion here but otherwise, the beach is largely left to nature. Even though the beach is quite popular in summer, there is always plenty of space for everyone. The beach is also great for extended beach walks.

Waipatiki Beach

Photo: D. Pimborough / Shutterstock.com

Marine Parade

Napier’s Marine Parade is a great place to spend a few hours strolling along the lovely waterfront.

Not only are there dozens of great restaurants, bars, hotels, and nightclubs located here but there is also a very large and wide beach that is great for relaxing during the summer. There are also many playgrounds, lovely fountains and sports facilities found here.

Marine Parade napier

Climb Te Mata Peak

Around 27 km south of Napier is the well-known Te Mata Peak which offers fantastic views over the ocean and the surrounding countryside. The peak can be reached by car but there are also fantastic trails that lead all the way to the peak.

Climbing through this scenic area is a great experience. Other than climbing to the peak, the mountain is also used for paragliding which is likely the most spectacular way to spend your time at the Te Mata Peak.

Te Mata Peak

Napier’s Tremains Art Deco Weekend

To celebrate its Art Deco heritage there is a festival taking place during February that is known worldwide for its interesting events. Around 40,000 people attend the festival annually to celebrate colorful vintage car parades, fashion shows, and concerts.

It’s almost as if the whole city switches back to the 1930s during the time of the festival giving it a very unique and interesting atmosphere.

Napiers Tremains Art Deco Weekend

Photo: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock.com

Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers is located south of Napier and offers stunning nature right along the ocean. Its name refers to an interesting event when the local Māori people attempted to capture the crew of an English boat.

The Cape Kidnappers offers great hiking trails and many scenic spots that are great for nature photography. There is also a spectacular golf course located here that is often considered one of the country’s most impressive.

Cape Kidnappers

Napier Cathedral

Napier Cathedral is the religious highlight of the city, located right in the center. It was built in 1965 and is built in the typical Art Deco style city is known for.

What makes the cathedral unique is that the cathedral is home to both the Bishop of Waiapu and the Te Pihopa o Aotearoa. The Waiapu Cathedral is known for hosting a choir and one of the best pipe organs in all of the country.  

Napier Cathedral

Mission Estate Winery

Mission Estate Winery was built in 1851 and is today considered the oldest surviving wine estate in Hawke’s Bay. It was founded by Catholic missionaries to produce sacramental wine for worship.

The estate is very well-maintained and beautiful and is a great place to spend a few hours if you are interested in tasting the local wines. There is also a very elegant restaurant found here that offers a great combination of the local wine and typical dishes of the region.

Mission Estate Winery

Napier’s Botanical Gardens

Napier’s Botanical Gardens offer a fantastic variety of flowers amidst beautifully kept gardens right in the heart of the city.

Not only is the garden known for its beauty but also for its historic value as there are two wells here that were built more than 100 years ago and serve to water the area.

Needless to say, there are plenty of walking tracks here that are great for taking a stroll. The gardens are adjacent to the Napier Cemetery which is also worth exploring.

Napier’s Botanical Gardens

Shine Falls

Shine Falls are incredibly impressive waterfalls located 60 km north of Napier. The waterfalls are surrounded by untouched nature and many trails are leading through the area offering incredible wilderness and serenity.

Despite the stunning natural surroundings, the Shine Falls is the obvious highlight of the area as they fall off a 58 m high cliff into a natural pool. Coming here is a real adventure and great for every lover of outdoor activities. It’s a great day trip to make from Napier.

Shine Falls

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