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Review: Napier


New Zealand

Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

  • By SilverTraveller ZoshJosh

    38 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Nov 2013
  • Husband

31 people found this review helpful

This is an architecturally important town in that it is the best example of Art Deco buildings in NZ. The area was razed by an earthquake in 1931 which destroyed the town but raised the land significantly adding useful acreage but the town centre had to be mainly rebuilt which accounts for such a high concentration of Art Deco buildings.

We were there in November 2012. Apparently the region enjoys a dry sunny climate with only some rain and higher than average temps but unfortunately we chanced upon the days when it was cool and overcast and even drizzly. Hey ho, such is the luck of the draw but we still enjoyed what it had to offer. The best time to go is in February for the Art Deco parade when people dress up and vehicles of the 30s appear on the roads and when the Mission Winery Concert is held (this 2013 Feb one featured Barry Gibb).

However, in October there were no crowds or queues and we enjoyed plenty of attention wherever we went.

Napier is a place where you would stay either B&B or guest house to get a good feel of the town. We struck upon our friendly hosts – Lynne and John – ex-pats from Scotland – and pet pug Gizzy at the The Parsonage, Napier Hill district. We were their only guests but they do take more. The house was one of the oldest houses in Napier, with plenty of wood and character and with good views over the area and its houses clinging to the hillsides. We were treated as friends with a key to come and go as we wished if they had to go about their own work and business but we had lovely discussions about their life and places to visit over breakfast or evenings around the fire.

There are good walks over Bluff Hill which overlooked the port and had extensive vistas over the coastline to the sides. We also had walks along the concrete path/cycle way along the palm lined Marine Parade where we saw the Pania of the Reef statue, lit up fountains etc in its unique Art Deco style and fabulous sunsets over Hawke's Bay. We visited the NationaL Aquarium sited right on the parade with its own large car park (admission was about £10 PP) and, despite its name, also house kiwi and tuataras of which we had good views, the kiwis in the nocturnal house. The aquarium walkway had great views of shark and big fish from underneath too.

The following morning we went to Mission Estate Winery, one of the most sustainable and historical wineries in NZ. It was established by French missionaries 1851 and their history and that of the building is fascinating. It is also beautiful with wonderful views. A pleasant wine tasting followed for just 4 of us visiting at that time. And it was all free though their is plenty opportunity to buy quality wines. gifts, crafts and dinners which you would want to do because they are quite unique.

The town itself offered a good selection of shops and cafes and had a small theatre and a museum we did not visit. It was a bit sleepy at that time of year and we felt there was not much on. Most cafes offered free wi-fi. One evening we had fantastic authentic meal at the Indonesian Restaurant on Marine Parade. This cosy place is decorated with Indonesian crafts, has great service and the food comes quickly.

Be warned, many of the areas roadways out of the centre are quite steep because of the topography which would not be good for people with severe mobility problems or with wheelchairs or who are not confident drivers as the driveways to guest house can be narrow. However, if you stay close to the sea front, Marine Parade is a long area on the flat with motels, restaurants, tourist attractions and information points. It has easy access to the flat and pedestrianised town centre too.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • granh
    over 3 years ago
    Yes, lovely place, the Art Deco buildings were marvellous. We visited from a cruise ship, and had a town tour, which gave a good overview and avoided walking on the steep bits! We then walked round the flat centre, so saw the best the town had to offer.