How to Plan the Best Trip to Napier
Compacted on the edge of the southern Pacific Ocean, decorated in Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco architecture, Napier is like nowhere else in the world. While delving into the history of Napier’s unique style is an interesting thing to do here, many visit the city and surrounding Hawke’s Bay for its wine region – the oldest in New Zealand. You’ll also find those natural wonders that New Zealand seems to do so well, like the tectonic-formed cliffs and magnificent gannet colony on Cape Kidnappers or the fossil canyons and rampant white water rapids of the Mohaka River.
Napier might be a little off the tourist trail, hidden behind the Ruahine Ranges, but there’s something to delight families to foodies here in this piece of Hawke’s Bay heaven. Discover more and plan your unique getaway using this travel guide to Napier as a launching pad.
Common Questions About Napier
We’re not messing around with this travel guide to Napier; here are the most common questions travellers have about visiting.
What is Napier Well Known For?
Napier is famous for being one of the most complete collections of Art Deco buildings, as well as being in New Zealand’s oldest wine region.
Is Napier Worth Visiting?
Yes! With one of New Zealand’s premium wine regions and stunning natural attractions like Cape Kidnappers on its doorstep, Napier is worth visiting if you are into these drawcards.
Where is Napier, NZ Located?
On the east coast of the North Island in the Hawke’s Bay region, New Zealand.
What is the Weather Usually Like in Napier?
Napier has a mild and mostly dry climate. The daily average temperature is 13.9°C/57.1°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 879mm/34.6“. Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
How Do You Get to Napier?
Napier is well connected to the rest of New Zealand by road, located off State Highway 2. The closest international airport is Wellington Airport (4h30mins drive) with plenty of car rental options available, as well as domestic flights to Napier Airport. Napier is also on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Is it Better to Stay in Napier or Hastings?
Napier is a city on the coast compared to Hastings which is a landlocked town, therefore, Napier tends to have more variety when it comes to landscapes, shopping and dining. Nevertheless, if you prefer small-town charm and being closer to attractions like Cape Kidnappers and Te Mata Peak, then Hastings might be more appealing.
What to Do in Napier
Not only is Napier an excellent base for day trips to Cape Kidnappers and the surrounding Hawke’s Bay region but it has a few noteworthy attractions of its own. Art Deco is kind of a big deal here, experienced through city walking tours and vintage vehicle tours. Additionally, a stroll down Marina Parade is always exciting between the mini golf, ice cream parlour, skate parks, pebble beach and water features.
The Top Experiences in Napier
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Napier highlights:
- Do an Art Deco tour with the Art Deco Trust (more info and book tickets on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the views from Bluff Hill
- Tour the Hawke’s Bay wineries with Hawke’s Bay Scenic Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Get spooked at the Napier Prison (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try stand-up paddleboarding with Paddle Boarding Hawke’s Bay…
… And so much more! The list continues over on our 15 Best Things to Do in Napier.
Rainy Day Activities
Napier might primarily get sunny days but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a bad weather backup plan! Some rainy day activities include:
- Learn something new at the museum MTG Hawke’s Bay
- Experience all things “honey” at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Tackle the rapids of the Mohaka River on a rafting trip (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
And there’s a lot more where that came from over in our 11 Things to Do in Napier on a Rainy Day.
Where to Stay in Napier
Other than the accommodations we recommend on the righthand side of this complete travel guide to Napier (or at the bottom, if you’re on mobile), we have compiled entire lists of places to stay based on price, what’s best for families or a couples’ getaway, as well as premium stays. What’s more, each list is compiled by real writers; not some algorithm.
Napier for Budget Travellers
The wineries and lavish art deco facade of Napier might make the region seem pricey, but some of the best things to do here are actually free or cheap. Guided walks of Napier’s Art Deco centre and of one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries will only cost you around NZ$30, while natural attractions like Te Mata Peak and Bluff Hill are free to visit. What’s more, staying in Napier is completely affordable with a range of budget motels, hostels and a couple of holiday parks. Plan your visit according to your budget in The Guide to Napier on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Napier
- Take a guided walking art deco tour of Napier (more info and book tickets on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hike to the top of Te Mata Peak
- Visit the MTG Hawke’s Bay regional museum
- Enjoy the views from Bluff Hill
- Learn about Maori history at the Otatara Pa.
For more information on each activity and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Napier.
Budget Accommodation in Napier
Motels and a couple of holiday parks are on the menu for budget travellers, as well as freedom camping spots which you can look up more information in the Freedom Camping Rules in New Zealand: Region by Region. Plus, due to the proximity of fruit picking jobs in Hawke’s Bay, you’ll also find plenty of backpacker hostels. Find out more in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Napier.
Napier for Luxury Travellers
A unique city such as Napier, with its striking Art Deco architecture and fascination for fine wines, deserves a special way to be experienced. Private vintage car and trike tours will get you to see the sights in style, while those looking to connect more with nature have raft fishing and New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony to admire. At the end of the day, retreat to your luxurious hotel likely to have a fine dining restaurant or a boutique retreat in the countryside. Plan a stay like this or with a few tweaks using The Luxury Guide to Napier.
Luxury Activities in Napier
- Tour Napier in a vintage vehicle (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take a private art deco tour with the Art Deco Trust (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Get the real Maori experience with Waimarama Maori Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony with Gannet Safaris Overland
- Do raft fishing on the Mohaka River with Raft Fish NZ (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Find out more about each experience and its location in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Napier.
Luxury Accommodation in Napier
While international-style hotels can be found in the city centre, some of the most luxurious offerings are the boutique lodges just outside the city. Treat yourself to someplace special using our 8 Best Luxury Accommodations in Napier.
Napier for Families
See why so many Kiwi families choose Napier as their holiday destination with your own mini-vacation as you’re travelling the North Island! Just walking along the city’s waterfront is an event with an array of playgrounds, gardens and mini golf. While there’s plenty in the city for families to enjoy, there’s also amazing sights of nature and rural activities for kids to get stuck into between the farm parks, honeybee attractions and stunning waterfall walks. Plan your perfect family getaway with The Guide to Napier for Families.
Family-Friendly Activities in Napier
- Walk from one family-friendly attraction to the next on Marine Parade
- Meet and feed the animals at one of the farm parks
- Play on the old-timey transport of The Faraday Centre
- Walk to stunning waterfalls in the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
- Spend a summer’s day at Splash Planet.
For explanation and locations on each activity, check out the 10 Things to Do in Napier with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Napier
From affordable self-contained motels to a full resort with swimming pools and kids’ club, Napier’s accommodations complete the package for an excellent family trip. Whatever your budget, style or tastes, you’ll likely find accommodation to suit in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Napier.
Napier for Couples
Napier effortlessly sets the scene for romance with its attractive old-timey buildings and rows of grapevines throughout the region. With relaxing wine tours that you can enjoy as a small group or independently by bike to adrenaline adventures like white water rafting, Napier strikes the right balance for a diverse and memorable romantic getaway or honeymoon. Stay in a luxury lodge or sumptuous hotel in the city to complete your getaway with that special someone. Plan more things to do and places to eat with The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Napier.
Romantic Activities in Napier
- Explore Napier and its wineries by bike (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take a guided winery tour of the Church Road Winery
- Enjoy a romantic hike through Hawke’s Bay’s lush landscapes
- Feel the adrenaline together on a tour with Mohaka Rafting (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Treat your loved one to a night out at Napier’s restaurants.
For more information on each experience, as well as locations, see the 8 Most Romantic Things to Do in Napier for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Napier
Experience privacy and convenience in your own luxury apartment, the holiday vibe in a lavish hotel, or something quaint like a boutique lodge. We list some of the highlights in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodations in Napier.
Napier for Foodies
Nicknamed the “Fruit Bowl of New Zealand” and being the oldest wine region of New Zealand, Napier and Hawke’s Bay hardly surprises if we tell you that it’s a foodie must-do! Spend your days touring the wineries, visiting a local alehouse, taking a look around a chocolate factory, and even learning about the life of the honeybee at a honey visitor centre.
When it comes to accommodation, you have some of the city’s top restaurants in Napier’s hotels, while most other accommodations have some sort of self-catering facility should you want to spruce up your own creations with produce picked up from the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market. Plan all of that and more using The Food Guide to Napier: Places to Eat & Foor Tours.
Food Tours and Experiences in Napier
- Do a wine tour of the Hawke’s Bay wineries (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
- Visit the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Do a chocolate tour at Silky Oaks Chocolates
- Share traditional Maori food on Napier Maori Tours.
For more information on each experience and more, check out the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Napier.
Foodie Accommodation in Napier
Some of Napier’s most renowned fine dining establishments are in its hotels – just to tell you. But whether you’re looking for accommodations with memorable dining experiences or self-catering accommodation, we list your top choices in the 10 Best Accommodations in Napier for Foodies.
More About Napier
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Napier but by no means the end of our Napier travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do in the region:
- The Best Day Trips from Napier
- 10 Hawke’s Bay Must-Dos
- 8 Best Things to Do in Hastings
- 10 Best Things to Do in Havelock North
- 9 Beautiful Beaches in Hawke’s Bay
- 10 Ways to Make the Most of Summer in Hawke’s Bay
Finally, plan more of your North Island trip using the North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.