Located in New Zealand’s sunny Hawke’s Bay region, Napier is home to many fine wineries, fabulous restaurants, bars and cafes. The charming city centre is lined with little boutique shops, and beautifully transformed Marine Parade is well worth a stroll. Some would say, the perfect place for a relaxing weekend escape. If this sounds like your type of getaway, here’s our ultimate 2-day itinerary for Napier.
The North Island city is not only the largest city in the sunny Hawke’s Bay region, but it’s also the quirkiest with its fascination with all things “Art Deco”. This makes a visit to Napier any eye-popping one – the city even has its own festival in celebration of this uniqueness – the Napier Art Deco Festival.
To celebrate this year’s festival – July 19-21, 2019 – here’s a list of other sights to see and things to do that will be great additions to your 2-day itinerary for Napier.
2-day itinerary for Napier
Day 1: Getting to know Napier
Morning: Streets, shopping and city sightseeing
Napier’s Art Deco is a style taken from the 1920s with geometric patterns and symbols of freedom that was chosen to decorate the city after a devastating earthquake destroyed the city. Needless to say, exploring Napier city is a must. Central Napier’s grid of streets means there is a walk-able range of boutique stores and larger national chains. Explore the streets either side of the railway lines within the Hastings CBD and head to Havelock North, a village boasting diverse boutique shopping.
For those keen on old cars, take a private 2-hour tour of Napier by vintage car. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as your personal chauffeur drives you around landmark sites and shares some of the city’s intriguing history. Art Deco walk tours are also available for those who prefer to get in the exercise.
Afternoon: Cultural exchange
At the cultural heart of Napier is the smart-looking MTG. It’s a gleaming-white museum-theatre-gallery space by the water, and it brings live performances, film screenings and regularly changing gallery and museum displays together with touring and local exhibitions.
Heading a short way out of the city, there is the opportunity to discover boutique stores, treasure troves and eclectic mix of art, fashion and antiques in the coastal settlements of Ahuriri, Te Awanga and Haumoana.
The wider region with famous Maori cultural experiences, breathtaking landscapes and wildlife, is definitely a highlight on your 2-day itinerary for Napier. A must-visit is the Otatara Pa Historic Reserve which encompasses one of the largest pa complexes in New Zealand. Here you will get to see the remains of terraces, dwelling sites and food storage pits and imagine the lively community that Otatara once was.
Evening: Dine in style
Hawke’s Bay is renowned for its tantalising flavours. And at the top of the list when it comes to where to go for dinner has to be Bistronomy. Bistronomy is the magical art of transforming Hawke’s Bay raw produce into fantastic dishes, and proof that some of New Zealand’s best food can be enjoyed outside the country’s biggest cities. The finely judged seasonal tasting menus, which could include sumac-cured kingfish or chicken poached, are highly recommended. Lunch is slightly less formal, but equally excellent.
Read more: The best restaurants in Hawke’s Bay
Day 2: Getting a taste for the region
Morning: Look out Napier
See the city you explored the day before and a few awesome photo opportunities at the top of Bluff Hill. The steep 35-minute climb (or easy 7-minute walk) takes you to the site of a World War II Battery. A plaque commemorates the presence of the soldiers at the site, while there are plenty of seating areas and garden displays to enjoy while taking in the views of Napier City and the Port of Napier.
Then take a leisurely stroll, or drive, to Ahuriri Beach. Here, breakfast at FG Smith is a must. From the eatdrinkshare group, is a great café for that early morning, brunch or lunch catch-up.
Afternoon: Sample a few local drops
A visit to Napier would not be complete without sampling a few of the local wines. The Hawke’s Bay region is home to several of New Zealand’s finest wineries. The best way to see the likes of the famous Mission Estate, the oldest winery in New Zealand, or French-owned Church Road Winery is by wine tour. There are several to choose from – depending on your time and tastes. A visit to Napier’s newest winery, The Urban Winery is also a great addition to any tour.
If you feel a bit red-faced after the wine tasting, a late afternoon or evening stroll along the city’s beautiful Marine Parade will offer a refreshing outlook on the city. The approximately 3km stretch of iconic seafront connects Napier with the Pacific Ocean, with stunning vistas encompassing Mahia Peninsula in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south.
Read more: Great places to stay in Hawkes Bay