The Top Activities and Attractions in Napier
Some amazing experiences await in 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”. 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 but also the wider region with famous wineries to visit, Maori cultural experiences, breathtaking landscapes and wildlife, and so much more. We’ll go through all the highlights in this list of super fun things to do in Napier!
1. Do a Self-Guided City Tour…
Let’s kick off our list of the best things to do in Napier with a classic. Napier is one good-looking city thanks to its Art Deco-style architecture. After an earthquake that devastated the city in 1931, the city was rebuilt in this quirky and vibrant style. Learn about the history and stories behind Napier’s architecture on a self-guided tour of the city. Interpretation panels can be found all around the city giving context to key sights. Either go for a walk and see what you discover (it’s a small city and you’ll get around easily) or pick up a self-guided walk brochure from the Art Deco Trust Centre or Napier i-SITE.
Location: All over Napier city centre. Art Deco Trust Centre – 7 Tennyson Street. Napier i-SITE – 100 Marine Parade.
2. … Or a Guided Art Deco Tour
Experiencing the “Art Deco” town is one of the most popular Napier activities. Several tour operators offer guided tours of the city centre focusing on its history and local stories through Art Deco architecture. It’s a great way to discover the city if you have just arrived with an easy-to-digest way to learn about the city. Book your walking tour with the Art Deco Trust or a vintage car tour with Avantogo Tours or Deco City Discoverer.
Location: Art Deco Trust – 7 Tennyson Street. Other tours – accommodation/cruise ship pick-ups available.
3. Check Out the Views from Bluff Hill
The most prominent Napier attraction is Bluff Hill. Get your bearings and a few awesome photo opportunities from the top! The steep climb (don’t worry, you can drive it) 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. The lookout is about 7 minutes’ drive/35 minutes’ walk from the city centre.
Location: End of Lighthouse Road, Bluff Hill, approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) from Napier city centre.
4. Tour the Hawke’s Bay Wineries
Napier is the hub of the Hawke’s Bay region, one of the most popular winemaking regions in New Zealand! It would almost be a sin to not get out there and taste the local wines in the heart of where it is all made. Plenty of tour operators, such as Vines and Views or Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours, can take you on a winery crawl from Napier. Alternatively, do a self-guided tour by bike or car (just don’t drink and drive) to cellar doors offering tastings and tours, such as Church Road, Mission Estate and Brookfields Vineyards, as listed in the 10 Best Wineries in Hawke’s Bay. After a few glasses, this will be your favourite thing to do out of all the Napier activities! See more experiences ideal for couples in the 10 Romantic Things to Do in Napier.
Location: All over the Hawke’s Bay region. See the link above for specific winery locations. Wine tours usually offer pick-up.
5. Get Spooked at the Napier Prison
The scariest, spookiest and funniest Napier attraction is the Napier Prison. That’s right, Napier is home to one of the creepiest places in New Zealand! Napier Prison offers self-guided tours with audio handsets to make your way through New Zealand’s oldest prison, established in 1862. Learn stories of famous New Zealand prison inmates and visit their old cells. There are costumes to get dressed up for some hilarious photos!
Location: 55 Coote Road, Bluff Hill, approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) from Napier city centre.
6. Culture Yourself at MTG Hawke’s Bay
If you are looking for what to do in Napier on a rainy day, this is the thing. Get your museum fix at MTG Hawke’s Bay! Learn about Napier’s history, the story of the earthquake, the Maori heritage and more in this museum for the Hawke’s Bay region. The museum is also a theatre and art gallery with ever-changing exhibitions and shows. What’s more, entry is free! See more experiences like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Napier.
Location: 1 Tennyson Street, Napier.
7. Stroll Along Marine Parade
Still wondering what to do in Napier? Go for a stroll! The waterfront of Napier is a pretty awesome place to stretch your legs or ride a bike. See water fountains, garden displays, statues, the beach, an aquarium, mini golf, children’s playgrounds and skateparks and more all dotted along Marine Parade and its walkway. What’s more, it’s great for all ages, as listed in the 15 Things to Do in Napier with Kids.
Location: Marine Parade, Napier.
8. Check Out 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. Plus, it’s a great place to pick up some authentic New Zealand souvenirs. It’s a great morning out with live music and other forms of street entertainment. Catch the market every Sunday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. If you’re into food, this will be one of your favourite things to do in Napier. See more experiences like this in the 10 Foodie Experiences in Napier.
Location: Kenilworth Road, Waipatu, Hastings, approximately 18 km (11 mi) from Napier.
9. See Gannets at Cape Kidnappers
Hawke’s Bay’s most iconic natural attraction is Cape Kidnappers. Not only will the geology of this unique area amaze you, but it’s also home to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. Reaching the Cape Kidnappers’ gannet colony and best coastline views can only be achieved at low tide by following the Cape Kidnappers Track (see link for track updates) from Clifton or take an easy-going yet informative tour with Gannet Safaris Overland also nearby Clifton. Discover more natural wonders nearby in the Top 10 Natural Attractions in Hawke’s Bay.
Location: Clifton. Take State Highway 2 then turn onto Mill Road just after Clive and continue toward Clifton. It is approximately 23 km (14 mi) from Napier city centre.
10. Experience a Maori Cultural Tour
If you are looking to venture further off the beaten track, consider heading to the small coastal town of Waimarama. Not only is it home to a stunning beach, but Waimarama Maori Tours offers an authentic Maori experience to learn more about New Zealand’s indigenous culture and visit significant Maori sites around the area. This is one of the most engaging Napier attractions. See more experiences like this in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Napier.
Location: Waimarama, approximately 50 km (31 mi) from Napier.
11. Discover the Mohaka River Through White Water Rafting
Looking to get wet and tackle the most epic of all the Napier attractions? For a wilderness adventure experience near Napier, check out white water rafting on the Mohaka River! Choose from a grade 3 or grade 5 white water rafting experience with heaps of cliff jumps, river floats, tunnels, waterfalls and more in between tackling some epic rapids. Check out white water rafting tours with Mohaka Rafting! Plus, find out more at our 7 Places for White Water Rafting in New Zealand.
Location: 3408 State Highway 5, approximately 47 km (29 mi) from Napier.
12. Climb Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak is the ultimate photo opportunity in the Hawke’s Bay region! Capture some breathtaking views from the top of the 399 m (1,309 ft) peak standing tall in the middle of Te Mata Park. The park also has several walking and mountain biking trails to enjoy making Te Mata Peak the most popular Napier attraction for locals.
Location: Te Mata Peak, Tuki Tuki, approximately 27 km (17 mi) from Napier city centre.
13. Visit Otatara Pā
Otatara Pā is one of the best examples of remaining pā sites (Maori fortified villages) in New Zealand. 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. It is approximately 10.4 km (6.5 mi) from Napier.
14. Sample Local Food at the Napier Urban Farmers Market
Another fantastic market in the Hawke’s Bay region, Napier Urban Farmers Market is another opportunity to sample plenty of local treats and produce, while enjoying entertainment through street performers. Catch the market every Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.
Location: Clive Square East, Napier South.
15. Tour Napier and Te Mata Peak in a V8 Trike
More unique ways to do sightseeing, explore Napier and the surrounding area with Supertrike Tours. Sit back, enjoy the sights and feel the breeze through your hair as you blast around Napier in a five-seater V8 trike. The team can organise bespoke half-day and full-day tours to visit Te Mata Peak, do tastings at some of the wineries and breweries of the area, enjoy a winery lunch and more. See more private tours listed in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Napier.
Location: Tours offer pick-ups from city centre accommodations. Otherwise, departures are from 546 Marine Parade or Napier i-SITE, 100 Marine Parade, Napier city centre.
16. Check Out the Old-Timey Transport of the Faraday Museum of Technology
If you find yourself in Napier on a rainy day, with kids in tow or are just curious about vehicles and technology of yesteryears, check out the Faraday Museum of Technology. Discover the technology and transport that shaped New Zealand, where the museum encourages you to interact with the exhibitions to learn about the items, rather than the usual 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.
17. Walk to Stunning Waterfalls in the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle.
Some easy-going walks just north of Napier 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 you can cool off in the pool. There’s also the 2-hour Tangoio Walkway for those 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.
18. 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.
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.
Location: 1131 Links Road, approximately 12 km (7 mi) from Napier city centre.
19. Take a Trip to Waipatiki Beach
Just north of Napier, Waipatiki Beach can be accessed from the road end, while a walk just before offers a great lookout over the vast stretch of golden sand. The coastal forest, a typical landscape of the east coast of New Zealand, leads to those views that you “only see on postcards”. While you’re in the area, there’s the 45-minute drive to the Waipapa Falls Track featuring a 5 m (16 ft) high waterfall. It is worth the 2-hour loop walk found around 13km (8 miles) down Aropaoanui Road. Find out more about the walks in the 10 Best Walks in Hawke’s Bay.
Location: Waipatiki Road, approximately 65 km (40 mi) north of Napier. The walk starts just before the beach.
20. Stretch Your Legs on the Ahuriri Estuary Walk
Just moments from Napier city centre and accessible to all, the Ahuriri Estuary Walk is 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.
21. Soak in the Hot Pools at Ocean Spa
In the true spirit of a North Island town, Napier has its own 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. For more wet-weather go-to’s, check out the 15 Things to Do in Napier on a Rainy Day.
Location: 42 Marine Parade, Napier city centre.
22. See the Honeybees in Action at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
A food experience suitable for all ages awaits in the nearby Havelock North where you’ll find the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre. The centre is home to one of New Zealand’s top honey brands where you 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.
23. Experience Tramping in the Kaweka Forest Park
Update: See the link below for track updates after Cyclone Gabrielle.
For all of you trampers out there, the Kaweka Forest Park encompasses many hikes, from the easiest like Kaweka Road to Makahu Saddle to the much harder, like the loop to “The Tits” and Rogue Ridge that includes multiple river crossings. It is definitely one of the best playgrounds for hikers in the area and is easy to spend a couple of weeks here exploring the many hikes available. To relax sore feet, head to the Mangatutu Hot Springs located at the campsite or, if you are keen on even more hiking, follow the track to the Magatainoka Hot Springs.
Location: Kaweka Road, approximately 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Napier.
24. Hit the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail
Napier and the surrounding Hawke’s Bay region are incredibly well connected with cycle trails making it one of the best ways to explore the area. For a gentle cycle along the coast, take the Water Ride. Or discover more of the landscapes and tastes of the region with the cruisy Landscapes Ride or Wineries Ride. For something more adventurous, we recommend biking at Te Mata Peak or Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park. Find further information on all these cycle trails and more in our Mountain Biking in Hawke’s Bay.
Location: All over Hawke’s Bay – see the link above for specific locations.
25. Dine at Napier’s Delectable Restaurants
Wrapping up our list of the best things to do in Napier as you might wrap up any day in Napier, treat yourself to some exquisite dining at the city’s restaurants. For instance, don’t miss Hunger Monger specialising in seafood exclusively from the North Island’s east coast. For naughty treats, head to Mister D open for breakfast, brunch and dinner. Dine on doughnuts that you can inject with flavours yourself. And for something a little different but extremely popular with the locals, Restaurant Indonesia offers an intriguing mix of Indonesian cuisine with Dutch influences. We have much more recommendations in The Food Guide to Napier!
Location: Hunger Monger – 129 Marine Parade. Mister D – 47 Tennyson Street. Restaurant Indonesia – 409 Marine Parade. See the link above for more recommendations and their locations.
More Things to Do in Napier
Still looking for things to do in Napier? We’ve got you covered with more Napier activities featured in those articles:
That’s it for the best things to do in Napier. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.