Napier’s trademark is its Art Deco architecture, built in the 1930s, following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that destroyed the city in 1931.
Few places in the world have such a broad representation of the Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and Art Deco styles within such a confined area, which is why the city has deservedly become known as the Art Deco Capital.
It also explains why aficionados from around the globe descend on Napier every February with their cars, costumes, and other condiments, for Art Deco Festival – a fun and frivolous celebration of this distinctive period style.
Along its two kilometres of sea frontage, lined with Norfolk Island Pines first planted in 1888, Napier’s Marine Parade offers a succession of visitor attractions set within a landscaped stretch of grass, pathways, and gardens. There is the Ocean Spa Complex, the National Aquarium of New Zealand, a Junior Bike Track complete with working traffic lights, Par 2 MiniGolf, places to eat, and plenty of open space for letting off steam. Marine Parade also features an impressive representation of art installations by well-known artists, including a prominent bronze statue dedicated to Pania of the Reef – a mythical Maori maiden of the sea who fell in love with a mainland chief, and for her sins was turned into a 1.6 km submerged rocky reef, which bears her name today.
Supported by a Mediterranean climate this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture. For the shopper there are high-street and boutique stores to browse in, as well as antique shops, art galleries, and studios of potters, wood turners and craftsman.
A Napier landmark is Bluff Hill, which is home to many Napier residents and provides views of the town beaches past the newly upgraded airport and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand’s busiest ports and a stopping point for many cruise liners.
Five minutes by car or an easy ten on the cycle trail, Ahuriri is a seaside port settlement on the north-west side of the Napier hill that has evolved rapidly from being the exclusive domain of mariners and sea dogs to a very cool satellite of Napier with its own unique vibe and a growing list of cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries, apartments, and boutique stores.
Westshore is a great spot for a seaside escape with plenty of places to stay. It’s within easy walking distance of Westshore Beach, which, by the way, is a great spot to stop for fish and chips to enjoy the sunset. The Ahuriri Estuary can be accessed via a boardwalk out across the water for close-up viewing of wading birds and mud dwellers. Westshore is also on the Hawke’s Bay Trails so you can nip along the trails towards Ahuriri for a bite to eat or head the other way towards Bay View for some scenic cycling along the coastline. Bay View has camp grounds, cafes and abundant fruit stalls laden with year round fruit.
Taradale is a ten-minute drive from downtown Napier. It’s a self-contained, residential suburb with its own relaxed, village hub. Its home to the Mission Estate and Church Road wineries, two of Hawke’s Bay’s oldest wine producers. The Mission Concert is a local institution that has been bringing international live music acts to Taradale since 1993.