Top 10 things to do in Napier
There's definitely something for everyone in Hawke's Bay, from Art Deco architecture and historic country homesteads to farmers' markets and award-wining wineries. And if outdoor adventures are your thing, check out the region's world-famous golf courses, gorgeous beaches, cycle trails, Te Mata Peak and the Cape Kidnappers gannet colony.
1. Immerse yourself in Art Deco Napier
Completely rebuilt in the Art Deco style, following the devastating 1931 earthquake and fire, the heart of Napier is a unique showcase of the period's distinctive architecture and design. It's not just one or two buildings - the entire CBD is like a permanent 1930s movie set. Knowledgeable local volunteers from the Napier Art Deco Trust provide walking tours and guided tours in vintage cars. And every February the Napier Art Deco Festival attracts more than 40,000 visitors who dress up, dance and celebrate the snazzy, glitzy, fun-filled days of the jazz era.
3. Ride Hawke's Bay cycle trails
With more than 200km of Hawke's Bay bike trails to choose from, it's easy to find your perfect ride. Hire a bike or e-bike and hit the Napier cycle trails, cruise the waterfront, nip around to the harbourside bars and restaurants at Ahuriri, or pedal on for a tasting and lunch at New Zealand's first winery, Mission Estate. There's a trail through the western wine growing area that takes in about 10 cellar door wineries. It's also home base for On Yer Bike Winery Tours.
4. Meet the birds with Gannet safaris
At Cape Kidnappers, the world's largest gannet colony sits on top of towering white cliffs. Here you can stand within a few metres of the nesting birds and watch as they fly in and out of the colony with amazing skill. Gannet Safaris Overland runs guided tours in small four-wheel drive buses across farmland right out to the colony. Another popular option is Gannet Beach Adventures. From October to April, they use vintage tractors to tow visitors on large trailers along the beach, pausing to talk about geological features, fossils and seabirdson the way to the colony.
5. Shop at the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market
This festive Sunday morning Hastings farmer's market has been operating for more than 17 years. A true farmers' and artisans' market, everything is grown and produced in Hawke's Bay. Come for a coffee and a bite to eat, pick up some wonderfully fresh fruit and vegetables, or shop for handcrafted gifts and souvenirs to take home. On Saturday mornings, the Napier Farmers' Market sets up in Clive Square right in the middle of the city providing another opportunity to meet local producers and buy local.
6. See the view from Te Mata Peak
Towering 399m above the plains below, Te Mata Peak in the Havelock North district is so much more than an impressive landmark. It's culturally significant to local Māori and an important part of Hawke's Bay's history. You can drive or walk to the top for spectacular views in every direction. From the main gate car park, there are several walking tracks to choose from. The park also has exciting purpose-built mountain bike trails ranging from Grade 2 (easy) to Grade 6 (extreme). And when you return to the plains you're within minutes of award-wining wineries, like Black Barn and Te Mata Estate.
7. Visit Lake Waikaremoana
This picturesque lake is in Te Urewera National Park, a vast area of pristine native forest and the ancestral home of Tūhoe people. By booking huts or camping sites managed by the Department of Conservation, you can hike the three-to-four-day Waikaremoana Track around part of the lake and book return transport by water taxi. It's one of New Zealand's Great Walks. There's also a motor camp with accommodation options beside the lake, which is known for great fishing.
8. Tee off at Cape Kidnappers Golf Course
Set in a beautiful ridge-and-valley landscape on a clifftop 140m above the ocean, this remarkable Tom Doak par 71 course comes with immense sea views from every hole. With some fairways bordering deep ravines and nerve-tingling cliff-top bunkers, Cape Kidnappers is designed to provide the right degree of challenge for every golfer. Other major Hawke's Bay golf courses that welcome visitors include the Napier Golf Club, Hawke's Bay Golf Club and Hastings Golf Club.
9. Explore Central Hawke's Bay homesteads
Built in the mid-to-late 1800s, several stately homes of wealthy sheep station owners provide boutique luxury Hawke's Bay accommodation and garden wedding venues. Beautifully restored, furnished from the period and set in magnificent gardens, they also offer a perfect setting for everything from high tea to special occasions. Oruawharo Homestead has an onsite chapel perfect for weddings and functions, Wallingford Homestead specialises in fine dining experiences, and Gwavas Garden & Homestead has a garden of national significance
10. Relax on Hawke's Bay beaches
With 360km of beautiful coastline, Hawke's Bay is a paradise for visitors who love sun, sand and surf. Favourites include Waipatiki Beach, Westshore Beach, Napier's foreshore, Ocean Beach, Kairakau Beach, Pourerere Beach and Black head Beach. In summer, many of these have surf lifesaving patrols to look after the safety of swimmers.