Admire the art deco architecture, take in the ocean views and enjoy locally produced wines at this charming little port city.
Napier is a city of about 60,000 inhabitants, located on New Zealand’s picturesque Hawke’s Bay. It is home to one of the world’s best assortments of art deco buildings, and it hosts architecture and vintage festivals throughout the year. The city was all but destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, but it was swiftly rebuilt in the style of the times, which left Napier with one of the most attractive streetscapes in the country.
Stroll down the streets in the city center to find some of the major art deco buildings. There are several companies that run tours explaining the evolution of the style and its prominence in Napier. Make sure you check out the Municipal Theatre for one of the best examples. If you’re in town in mid-February, head to the annual Art Deco Weekend Summer Festival, which draws architecture enthusiasts and general visitors alike with picnics and vintage events all around town.
Learn more about local history at the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery. There you’ll find a great collection of art and artifacts from native tribes and pioneer settlers, as well as information on the 1931 earthquake and reconstruction.
One of Napier’s foremost historical sites is Napier Prison, New Zealand’s oldest. Take a guided tour, for a fee, or rent an audio guide. There’s even a spooky night tour for the daring.
For some quiet time, walk down Marine Parade. You’ll see statues, fountains and gardens all along this stretch. There are also cafés and restaurants where you can sit back and gaze out at the Pacific Ocean. Find out what lives beneath the water at the National Aquarium. It houses sharks, stingrays and all kinds of native marine species, such as the seven-armed starfish.
Food and wine lovers will want to visit some of the Hawke’s Bay region wineries, many of which are easily accessible from Napier. These produce some of New Zealand’s finest wines, with tours and tastings available. Be sure to stay for lunch, as locals take good food very seriously.
Napier is a city with great architecture and loads to do. It’s located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island and is 457 km (286 miles) south of Auckland.