Family Activities in Napier and Hawke’s Bay
Pack the kids’ swimwear (or “togs” as the locals would say) and head to the seaside city of Napier and the surrounding Hawke’s Bay region! Yep, there’s a waterpark, there’s a waterfall walk, there are beaches and even the waterfront walkway is full of water features that kids can’t resist running through. Needless to say, you’ll earn a lot of parent points taking them to this urban and nature playground. But when you do want to slow down, there are family-friendly museums and food tours to enjoy. Find out more in this list of things to do in Napier and Hawke’s Bay with kids!
And for more things to do in Napier with kids, as well as help to plan your trip, check out The Guide to Napier for Families.
1. Walk From One Family-Friendly Attraction to the Other on Marine Parade
Yes, just walking along the waterfront of Napier is a fun and free family activity to enjoy! Marine Parade spans along the waterfront incorporating an array of features that kids love. The children’s playground is packed with tunnels, toddler and big kids’ slides, swings, sand and water playgrounds and more. The Sunken Gardens has shallow water features that kids like to paddle in while the walkway is easy to approach with a stroller. Speaking of water features, there are heaps along Marine Parade so don’t expect your kids to come out the other side dry! There’s also a junior bike track should you be travelling with bikes, scooters, etc, as well as a mini golf course. See more activities like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Napier.
Location: Marine Parade, Napier city centre.
2. Meet and Feed the Animals at the Farm Parks
Animal lovers are spoiled at Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo in Haumoana, which offers kids the opportunity to feed the animals, as well as take pony rides, hire bikes and take a tour of the farm via a Thomas the Tank Engine-inspired train.
Location: 32 East Road, Haumoana, approximately 17 km (11 mi) from Napier city centre.
3. Witness the Wonders of Nature at the Cape Kidnappers’ Gannet Colonies
Moving onto Napier’s natural inhabitants, seeing the majestic gannets of Cape Kidnappers is a memorable experience for the whole family. Don’t worry about hiking the long beachside trail at low tide, instead join Gannet Safaris Overland for a unique tour in a rugged vehicle on the clifftops of Cape Kidnappers to see New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony! You’ll also get to learn all about farming at the clifftop station you’ll travel through from your knowledgeable guide.
Location: 396 Clifton Road, approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Napier city centre.
4. Spend a Summer’s Day at Splash Planet
If you’re visiting Napier and the Hawke’s Bay region in summer, don’t miss the outdoor waterpark Splash Planet! Based in the neighbouring town of Hastings, Splash Planet not only has an array of fun waterslides and water playgrounds for toddlers and big kids, but they also have hilarious bumper boats, a lazy river, go-karts, kayaking, a train ride, mini golf and much more. Get ready for a fun-filled day ahead! Note that this attraction only opens for the summer season.
Location: 1001 Grove Road, Parkvale, approximately 21 km (13 mi) from Napier.
5. Play on the Old-Timey Transport of the Faraday Museum of Technology
If you find yourself in Napier on a rainy day or just have curious kids, check out the Faraday Museum of Technology. Kids and adults alike can discover the technology and transport that shaped New Zealand, where the museum encourages you to touch, play with, drive, press buttons and pull levers to learn about the items, rather than reading. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Napier on a Rainy Day.
Location: 2b Faraday Street, Napier city centre.
6. See the Honeybees in Action at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
For a child-friendly food experience, head to Havelock North and you’ll find the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre. The centre is home to one of New Zealand’s top honey brands where your family can learn about the honeybee, their role in the food chain and how they make honey. Watch the bees at work through the observation hives and taste the good stuff! What’s more, the attraction is free! For more experiences nearby, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Havelock North.
Location: 66 Arataki Road, Havelock North, approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Napier city centre.
7. Take a Self-Guided Tour of Napier Prison
If you have kids with active imaginations then they’ll love the historical Napier Prison. An affordable activity for the whole family, Napier Prison offers self-guided tours with an audio device and map so you can learn about the prison’s stories as you explore the cells, undulating corridors, its graveyard and more. There’s the “Historical Tour” or a “Ghost Tour”; which will you dare to choose?! Note that there are some gory aspects in the “Ghost Tour”.
Location: 55 Coote Road, Bluff Hill, approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) from Napier city centre.
8. Swim, Play and Build Sandcastles at Ahuriri Beach
What is a New Zealand family getaway without some beach time? One of Napier’s best beaches for families is Ahuriri Beach, where you’ll find a small safe-swim beach for families and the nearby Spriggs Park Playground. Build sandcastles on the beach, swim or do whatever it is your family like to do at the beach, then wander along the boardwalk lining the beach leading to the scenic Perfume Point and the rockpools off Spriggs Park that kids love to explore. There are also cafes along the boardwalk. For more beaches to discover as a family, take a look at 10 Beautiful Beaches in Hawke’s Bay.
Location: Car park where Nelson Quay and Hardinge Road meet, approximately 3 km (2 mi) from Napier city centre.
9. Soak in the Hot Pools or Burn Off Some Steam at Ocean Spa
What kid doesn’t like the pool? In Napier, you have the soothing hot pool waters of Ocean Spa. The outdoor complex features heated chlorinated water meaning you can enjoy this facility whatever the weather. There’s also a cafe to wrap up a relaxing afternoon.
Location: 42 Marine Parade, Napier city centre.
10. Visit the Maori Historical Site of Otatara Pā
Otatara Pā is one of the best examples of remaining pā sites (Maori fortified villages) in New Zealand and never fails at getting the imaginations of the little ones running. A 45-minute walk around the reserve allows you to see archaeological features, as well as soak in commanding views of the surrounding region.
Location: Taradale. Follow Gloucester Road south onto Springfield Junction where Otatara Pa is signposted, approximately 10.4 km (6.5 mi) from Napier.
11. Treat the Kids (and Yourself) to Temptations at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
The neighbouring town of Hastings proudly hosts New Zealand’s longest-running farmers market at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market. There are lots of free tastings of local produce and it’s also a great place to pick up some authentic New Zealand souvenirs. All in all, it’s a great morning out for the whole family with live music and other forms of street entertainment. Catch the market every Sunday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.
Location: Kenilworth Road, Waipatu, Hastings, approximately 18km (11 miles) from Napier.
12. Stretch Your Legs on the Ahuriri Estuary Walk
In true New Zealand style, there are plenty of family-friendly walks around Napier to keep everyone active while enjoying the stunning scenery. One of the closest to the city itself is the Ahuriri Estuary Walk, a one-hour venture across flat boardwalks and well-formed tracks across an estuary full of birds, fish and other mud-dwellers. There are also some interesting pou (carved Maori poles) to see along the way.
Location: Humber Street, off Pandora Road, Napier.
13. Challenge Your Family to an Escape Room
Fast becoming the most popular way to spend a bit of extra time or a rainy day in any city, escape rooms are also present in Napier. Enigma Escape Rooms has four exciting rooms with difficulty levels and themes to suit groups of one to eight players. Find clues, crack codes and solve puzzles to make it out of the room within the hour!
Location: 14 Herschell Street, Napier city centre.
14. Walk to Stunning Waterfalls in the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle.
Some more easy-going family-friendly walks lie within the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve. There are two fantastic waterfall walks; Te Ana Falls only takes 30 minutes’ return, while Tangoio Falls is a 60-minute return where kids can enjoy splashing around in the pool. There’s also the 2-hour Tangoio Walkway for families with older kids looking for more of an adventure through various types of forest. Be careful on the stream crossings on this last walk.
Location: Tangoio, State Highway 2, approximately 27 km (17 mi) from Napier city centre.
15. Take a Tour of a Chocolate Factory
Update: Tours may still not be available after Cyclone Gabrielle, but a pop-up shop is open at the Silky Oaks Cafe.
Some of Napier’s fantastic family-friendly indoor attractions are orientated around food that both kids and adults adore. For instance, visit Silky Oaks Chocolate for their tours through their chocolate factory, their chocolate museum and, of course, lots of chocolate tastings! Afterwards, indulge in their famous “Extreme Chocolate” drink and other delights in their on-site cafe. See more activities like this in the 10 Foodie Experiences in Napier.
Location: 1131 Links Road, approximately 12 km (7 mi) from Napier city centre.
More Things to Do in Napier with Kids
That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Napier with kids! For more family-friendly experiences, take a look at more of our guides:
Finally, if you haven’t yet found a place to stay, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Napier.