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, where to eat and the family-friendly accommodations in this travel guide to Napier for families.
The Top Family 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
- 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 Museum of Technology
- See the honeybees in action at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Take a self-guided tour of Napier Prison…
… And the list goes on! For explanations and locations on each activity, check out the 15 Things to Do in Napier & Hawke’s Bay with Kids.
What to Do in Napier with Toddlers and Babies
If you have got little ones to entertain while enjoying Napier yourself, then there are a few activities to thrill you all. While we list them all in the 15 Things to Do in Napier & Hawke’s Bay with Kids, one of the highlights includes Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo!
Hawke’s Bay Farmyard Zoo
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. Find this attraction approximately 17 km (11 mi) from Napier city centre.
Splash Planet (Summer Only)
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!
Faraday Museum of Technology
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 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.
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.
What to Do in Napier with Kids and Teens
Like the rest of New Zealand, Napier is best experienced outdoors! Some of the best outdoor adventures for families with kids and teenagers include tours to the Cape Kidnappers gannet colonies, as well as unique experiences like Napier Prison.
From the farmyard animals to New Zealand’s wild animals, seeing the 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. Tours depart from 396 Clifton Road, approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Napier city centre.
Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
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. Find the visitor centre down Arataki Road, approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Napier city centre.
If you have kids or teens 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”. Find Napier Prison up on Coote Road of Bluff Hill, just a short drive from Napier city centre.
For more ideas, again, check out the 15 Things to Do in Napier and Hawke’s Bay with Kids.
Free Things to Do in Napier with Kids
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?!
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. Find this site in Taradale, approximately 10.4 km (6.5 mi) from Napier.
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. Find this one along Humber Street off Pandora Road.
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle.
If you’re looking for an easy-going but stunning walk with the kids, check out the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve tracks. Just 27 km (17 mi) 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.
Family-Friendly Cafes and Restaurants in Napier and Hawke’s Bay
When it comes to treating the family to lunch and dinner, where are the best places to dine in Napier and Hawke’s Bay for families?
Family-Friendly Dining in Napier
After galavanting on Ahuriri Beach (see above), relax with a crowd-pleasing menu, including a kids’ menu, at The Boardwalk Beach Restaurant & Bar (8 Hardinge Road, Ahuriri). The cafe/restaurant that is open all day is conveniently located right beside a large playground, as well as an ice cream parlour for dessert.
Delight your palate with Mexican food at Mamacita (112 Tennyson Street, Napier & 12 Havelock Road, Havelock North). With irresistible finger food ideal for sharing, a kids’ menu, tempting deals throughout the week, as well as kids’ activity sheets and crayons to engage in, what’s not to love?
Family-Friendly Dining in Hawke’s Bay
Let the kids loose at the huge playground and open space beside Off The Track (114 Havelock Road, Havelock North). Open for brunch, lunch and dinner with a family-friendly menu and seating inside and out, this large cafe/restaurant has you sorted.
A destination in itself, Birdwoods (298 Middle Road, Havelock North) is an art gallery, sculpture garden and old-fashioned sweet shop just begging for a visit! Oh, and there’s food too serving all your favourites, as well as espresso and real fruit ice cream.
For more dining recommendations, head over to The Food Guide to Napier.
Self-Catering in Napier
Napier is well supplied with national supermarket chains to local greengrocers! Choose an accommodation with kitchen facilities and you can save a ton on dinnertime. We have them listed in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Napier.
More About Napier for Families
That’s it from the travel guide to Napier for families, but it’s by no means the end of our advice! Check out these other articles for more ideas to plan the perfect family trip to Hawke’s Bay:
- 20 Best Things to Do in Napier
- 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Napier
- The Complete Travel Guide to Napier
Finally, discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.