The Guide to Napier for Families
The Guide to Napier for Families

The Travel Guide to Napier for Families

© Arataki Honey – Hawke’s Bay

How to Plan a Family Trip to Napier

Earn yourself a few parent points by taking the little ones to Napier. It seems that every attraction is a playground, from the fun-filled free attractions along the city’s waterfront walkway to the huge waterpark to the surrounding nature reserves. Needless to say, you’ll need to make sure you bring the kids’ togs (Kiwi-speak for swimwear) with lots of opportunities for the kids to have a splash. It’s not all go, go, go though, as some of the more relaxing museums and a child-friendly chocolate factory and honey tour offer a way for the whole family to enjoy a relaxing pace.

Let us guide you through the must-do family experiences, the free things to do, the wet weather alternatives and the family-friendly accommodations in this travel guide to Napier for families.

Things to Do in Napier with Kids

  • Walk from one family-friendly attraction to the next on Marine Parade
  • Meet and feed the animals at one of the farm parks
  • Witness the wonders of nature at the Cape Kidnappers’ gannet colonies
  • Spend a summer’s day at Splash Planet
  • Play on the old-timey transport of The Faraday Centre
  • Take a tour of a chocolate factory at Silky Oaks Chocolate
  • See the honeybees in action at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
  • Walk to stunning waterfalls in the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
  • Take a self-guided tour of Napier Prison
  • Swim, play and build sandcastles at Ahuriri Beach.

For explanation and locations on each activity, check out the 10 Things to Do in Napier with Kids.

The Guide to Napier for Families© Kirsten Simcox - Hawke's Bay

Family Adventure Activities

Like the rest of New Zealand, Napier is best experienced outdoors! Some of the best outdoor adventures for families in and around Napier include farm tours, tours to the Cape Kidnappers gannet colonies, as well as unique experiences like Napier Prison and Taniwha Daffodils. While we list them all in the 10 Things to Do in Napier with Kids, some of the highlights include Funky Farm and Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo! Animal-lovers are spoiled for choice with these two fantastic petting zoos with friendly farm animals that kids love to meet, pet and feed. Both are very affordable and are around 16km (10 miles) away from Napier. However, Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo also offers pony rides, bike hire and tour of the farm via a Thomas the Tank Engine-inspired train.

From the farmyard animals to New Zealand’s wild animals, seeing the gannets of Cape Kidnappers is a memorable experience for the whole family. Join Gannet Beach Adventures for a unique tractor tour along the beach of Cape Kidnappers to marvel at amazing cliff formations on your way to a gannet colony where you’ll get to see these majestic seabirds and their chicks up-close. Learn more about Gannet Beach Adventures on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, Gannet Safaris Overland offers bus tours on the clifftops of Cape Kidnappers to see New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony. More information on Gannet Safaris Overland can be found on Viator and Tripadvisor.

And 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, 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!

For more ideas, check out the 10 Things to Do in Napier with Kids.

The Guide to Napier for Families© Arataki Honey - Hawke's Bay

All-weather Family Activities

If you find yourself in Napier on a rainy day, don’t fret! There’s still plenty to do indoors to keep the whole family happy, such as The Faraday Centre. This is Hawke’s Bay’s Museum of Technology where kids and adults alike can discover the technology and transport that shaped history. It’s a place where you are encouraged to touch, play with, drive, press buttons and pull levers to learn about the items, rather than reading boring plaques.

Napier’s other indoor attractions are interestingly orientated around food. For instance, Silky Oaks Chocolate offers a whole bunch of tours through their chocolate factory, their chocolate museum and, of course, includes lots of tastings! Alternatively, 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 like this, see the 10 Things to Do in Napier on a Rainy Day.

The Guide to Napier for Families© Hawke's Bay

Free Family Activities

It’s no secret that with more people to entertain, a family trip can get pretty pricey. Luckily, Napier has a ton of free activities to enjoy with the kids. Just take a walk along Marine Parade and you’ll have one family-friendly attraction to enjoy after the other. 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. Oh, and did we mention that there’s a mini golf course too?!

Finally, if you’re looking for an easy-going but stunning walk with the kids, check out the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve tracks. Just 27km (17 miles) north of Napier, there are two fantastic waterfall walks that are short enough for kids to enjoy. 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.

For more free activities, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Napier.

More About Napier

That’s it from the travel guide to Napier for families. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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