10 January 2020 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

Top 5 things to do in Napier!

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What to do in Napier

Napier is the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand and is a terrific place for a family holiday. There are so many budget friendly and free activities to do! From beautiful walks, stunning beaches and free museums, your family will have plenty to do.

We’ve put together a list of our top five things to do in Napier

1. Find a really big waterfall

what to do in napier
Photo credit: Michael Ekins

The Hawke’s Bay is packed with stunning scenery, including a range of epic waterfalls – the best being Shine Falls. A 1.5 hour drive (well worth it we promise!) from Napier City will bring your family to rural farmland that is roaming with wild turkey. From there, it’s around another half-hour walk to Shine Falls, a 60-metre waterfall with a beautiful lagoon to swim in. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon picnic and leisurely swim, as well as a prime photo spot for a new family photo.

2. Explore the gardens

things to do in napier
Photo credit: Sands MH

Complimenting Napier’s Art Deco architecture are numerous gardens scattered throughout the city. From hill-top gardens to beach-front gardens, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop and smell the roses while on holiday in Napier.  The Botanical Gardens are located on top of Hospital Hill and have a 19th Century design. The Centennial Gardens are at the north end of the Marine Parade on Bluff Hill and boast an impressive waterfall feature. Little known fact – these gardens were actually designed in the mid-1900s by Napier Prison inmates. Finally, the Sunken Gardens offer serenity with their below street level location and are considered a hidden gem of the urban city. All three are the perfect spots to chill out with your family.

 3. See the city through a different lens

napier things to do

Napier is an extremely photogenic city, with unique and colourful architecture and beautiful lookouts providing plentiful opportunities for some epic shots. Spend the afternoon with the family having your own photo competition, in which you incorporate the colourful building backdrops, the Marine Parade viewing platform and the Bluff Hill lookout. It will be a great day spent seeing the city through a different lens, and offers you some free memorabilia to take home from your holiday in Napier.

4. Enjoy a day a the beach

napier beach
Photo credit: Hawkes Bay NZ

While Napier is an urban metropolis, it is also a coastal city. With a beach that stretches for miles in every direction, your family will have plenty of places to choose from for your epic beach day out. Our top pick is Waipatiki Beach, as it is a safe swimming beach that offers the serenity of native bush and singing birds. You can relax in the sunshine listening to the waves crash as the kids build sandcastles and catch waves on their boogie boards. Win-win!

5. Get cultured in Napier

napier activities
Photo credit: Giorgio Martari

Being an Art Deco city, it is no surprise that there is also an abundance of culture in Napier. MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri functions as a museum, theatre and art gallery, with free entrance to the public. The three buildings are connected and offer insight into the humble beginnings of the city, the Maori culture of the region and the exquisite art that residents have produced throughout the years.

6. Go wine tasting

Mission Estate Winery exterior image

Whether it’s an adults only outing or a full on family affair, wine tasting in Napier is an absolute must-do. The Hawke’s Bay region boats over 100 vineyards, which means there are lots of grapes to taste! Some wineries, such as Mission Estate, even offer historic tours through the premise, making your wine outing an educational affair as well.

7. Explore the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand

Art Deco Event in Napier

Napier is world famous for the Art Deco scene and offers some fabulous walking tours to learn about the history behind these beautiful buildings. If you’re looking to really go back in time, you can hire a 1930’s vintage car to ride the family around in style! The kids will love it! Napier also has a fabulous Art Deco styled cinema to enjoy for both architectural beauty and good old fashioned movie entertainment.

8. Shop locally at the Farmer’s Market


The Napier Urban Food Market is a weekly event that you don’t want to miss out on! Hosted in Clive Square every Saturday, you will be in for a treat with live music, freshly brewed coffee, scrumptious bacon butties and a whole lot of vibrancy. It’s also the perfect place to stock up on local produce to make a home cooked meal in your holiday home that evening.

9. Swim under the stars


Napier is home to an open-aired heated saltwater pool known as Ocean Spa. During the day you’ll have stunning views of Cape Kidnappers, while in the evening you can relax in the warm waters stargazing until 10PM.

10. Visit New Zealand’s oldest prison

Napier prison interior

Napier is full of history, so it’s no surprise they also are home to New Zealand’s oldest prison. Napier Prison offers family-friendly tours through the prison, where you’ll learn about infamous inmates and hear stories about the ghosts who haunt the area.

Excited to explore Napier? Check out our Napier holiday homes and start planning your next trip here.

View our other “things to do” blog posts:

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