We’ve been to Napier three times for weekend breaks, and have enjoyed it every time. It’s a great place to visit, and I highly recommend it if you live in New Zealand and fancy a break or if you are visiting the country.
1 Take in the mix of architecture
Napier is rightly famous for its Art Deco buildings. Following a devastating earthquake in 1931, the town was rebuilt in the style of the day. There is an Art Deco festival every year in the town, organised by the Art Deco Trust.
There are, however, some Victorian properties that can be seen along Marine Parade, the most famous being six properties designed by Robert Lamb for a man who wanted to build a house for each of his daughters. Known as the Six Sisters, they form an interesting block along the waterfront. One houses the restaurant Mint, that we went to last year for an excellent dinner, and another, the Six Sisters Coffee House, featured in the image at the top of the post.
2 Food and drink
Napier is home to lots of excellent places to eat, including Cuisine magazine’s restaurant of the year 2017, Pacifica. Bistronomy, also in the city, won the best regional restaurant in the same awards. Add to that places we have eaten and enjoyed (see this post), and you are in for a gastronomic delight. There is also the Food and Wine Classic each summer, and you have a foodies paradise. Of course, the Hawke’s Bay area is well known for wine as I have written about before (here and here).
3 The National Aquarium
Napier is home to the National Aquarium of New Zealand, a short and lovely walk along the coast from the city centre. There are, apparently, 5 types of shark, as well as native and foreign sea creatures. You can also see kiwi here (the two we saw were very lively), tuatara and, probably best of all, little blue penguins. There are various feeding times, which are always fun, and a section with an underwater viewing tunnel with local fish species swimming above and around you.
4 Market and food shopping
For those wanting to go food shopping, on Saturdays there is a small farmers’ market in Napier and Sundays a larger on in nearby Hastings. Look out for the olive oil from Aquiferra and don’t forget to pop into Chantal for all things organic.
MTG Hawke’s Bay is a building housing a museum, theatre and gallery, found on the Marine Parade. The museum and gallery are now free, and well worth a visit. There is an excellent exhibition about the 1931 earthquake, as well as other local history in the museum part. The gallery has changing exhibits. When we were there we saw an exhibition of New Zealand Cubist artists and a lovely wee display of tea cups, which was naturally right up my street!
6 Just enjoy
Take a walk along the water front, bring your skateboard and go to the skate park, listen to the Carillon in Clive Square (it plays every half hour from 11.30am until 2pm – four tunes one minute apart. Programmes are changed regularly) or sit in the park by the waterfront and enjoy the flowers.
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