Napier Travel Guide
Introduction to Napier
Over 80 years ago, you could excuse the residents of Napier for thinking their hometown was finished. In 1931, a 7.8 earthquake shook this city for two and a half minutes. When it was finally over, most buildings had crumbled completely. The ensuing firestorm finished off what was left.
Rather than succumb to defeat, though, the people of Napier bounced back, re-building it from scratch. Using the building style that was hot at the time, they re-made the city in the Art Deco style.
This became a distinction which set the table for its enduring popularity among architecture enthusiasts, as this place is now home to one of the greatest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world.
Together with plenty of vineyards in the surrounding countryside, Napier is a city which should be on your North Island travel itinerary.
Cultural Attractions in Napier
The best thing about Napier came about because of its biggest tragedy. In the wake of a devastating earthquake which levelled the city and killed 256 people, the survivors were left to pick up the pieces and start over anew. When they set out to rebuild their downtown core, the structures that replaced the rubble embraced the Art Deco style, one of the hottest building disciplines in the world at that time.
There are walking tours that will show you the highlights of what was built, but if you decide to go the self-guided route, make sure you include the Marine Parade, the National Tobacco Building, the Masonic Hotel, and the National Telegraph Building in your wanderings.
Want to take in a local theatre production during your visit to Napier? Plan to spend an evening at MTG Hawke’s Bay, which has been considered to be the cultural heart of the community for over 150 years.
Even if there isn’t a production going on when you are in Napier, there is plenty to keep you engaged during a visit here. From an art gallery which shows off works by talented artists from around the country to a museum that features an earthquake exhibition which tells the story of this city’s darkest day, it is well worth the $10 NZD admission they charge for entry.
Do your interests lie more with the sciences? If the weather isn’t cooperating during your stay in Napier, checking out the Faraday Centre is a great way to salvage a rainy day.
An excellent attraction for all ages, the highlights of this place include a Tesla coil, whose electric currents always elicit surprised reactions from visitors, and antique pinball machines, which can still be played by museum patrons.
Other Attractions in Napier
Experience the marine life which calls the waters surrounding New Zealand home at the National Aquarium. It is an excellent place to bring children, who will love the glass tunnels through the main tank, where they will get to see fish swim all around them. The times when they feed the sharks and the penguins are also popular, as these activities aren’t always seen by visitors to other aquariums.
There is more to this attraction than what is under the water, though, as they also have a kiwi enclosure. Here, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of New Zealand’s most famous bird, which can be hard to find in the wild due to its nocturnal nature.
Napier is situated in the Hawke’s Bay area, which is known for its fertile soils. As a result, many vineyards have set up shop in the countryside in recent generations, creating a viticulture industry which has also become one of Napier’s top tourist attractions.
Not long after arriving, sign up for a winery tour, as this will free you from having to pick a designated driver. As such, everyone in your party will be able to enjoy the fine wines that this region produces.
From cheerful tour guides to tasty food served with the wine you’ll try, engaging in this activity is a must if you are travelling with wine lovers or as a couple.
Before departing Napier, get a smashing view of the entire area by heading up to the Bluff Hill Lookout. From this height, you’ll be treated to a vista which includes a look at the working port serving the city, the downtown core, and the waters of Hawke’s Bay.
If photography is your hobby, don’t miss a trip up here, as there are many subjects you can practice shooting, and it will give you some excellent shots you can show off to friends and family.