Itineraries for Your Trip to Napier

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3 Days in Napier for First Timers

Curated by Elen TurnerElen is a writer and editor based in the small city of Nelson, on New Zealand's South Island. Her work focuses on travel, arts, culture, and the humanities. When not working, she likes to explore one of the three national parks on her doorstep.

Famous for its art deco architecture and surrounded by some of New Zealand’s best wine-producing land, Napier attracts travelers with wide-ranging interests. With three days, not only can you see all its highlights, you can also take in the wildlife of this coastal North Island town. Here’s how to spend three days in and around Napier. 

Day 1

In 1931, Napier was all but destroyed by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, and in the years that followed, the city was rebuilt largely in the art deco style fashionable at the time. Today this artistic heritage draws art and culture lovers to Napier, and a guided art deco–themed tour is the best way to cover the finest examples and learn about the city’s architectural heritage. Options include a walking tour led by an art historian, an e-bike tour that allows you to cover more ground quickly, or a private guided or self-guided tour in a vintage car, which will make you feel as though you’ve been transported back to the 1930s.

Day 2

New Zealand’s oldest wine-producing region, Hawke’s Bay has been cultivating grapes since the 1850s and now produces some of the best wine in the country. While the dozens of wineries here are most famous for merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and syrah blends, the region also produces rich chardonnays. Explore Hawke’s Bay wineries on a guided tour for maximum convenience, or rent bicycles and cycle your way between the wineries for a more active day out. Be sure to stop for lunch at one of the many winery restaurants, which serve food that’s well-matched to the wines, for a full culinary experience.

Day 3

Located in a remote and sparsely populated part of New Zealand’s North Island, Napier is near epic coastal views and undisturbed birdlife. South of the city, Cape Kidnappers is the southern headland of Hawke’s Bay and site of the world’s largest Australasian gannet colony, breeding site of thousands of pairs of gannets. Access to the site, best visited between November and May, can require crossing private land, so many travelers opt to view the gannets as part of a guided tour. Cape Kidnappers also has a golf course with spectacular coastal views. 

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