The city of Napier on the North Island of New Zealand is known mostly for its excellent collection of Art Deco architecture. The city was rebuilt in the 1930s after being destroyed by an earthquake and almost all of the buildings in the downtown are designed in the iconic Art Deco style. The city even hosts Art Deco Days, a festival celebrating the art and style of the era.
What to do in Napier, New Zealand?
However, Napier isn’t just for architecture geeks. I stayed in this great city for 2 months while travelling New Zealand and discovered many other great things to do, such as:
Get a Creepy Tour of the Old Prison
Napier Prison is the oldest prison in New Zealand and was built in 1862, but these days it no longer houses criminals and is open for historic tours. The tours are given by backpackers from all over the world who work for accommodation and actually live within some of the old prison cells – which is what I did while on a working holiday in New Zealand.
The prison is creepy, dark and cold – with plenty of fascinating ghost stories and terrible tales of things that have happened over the years. If you really want a fright, visit during one of the scary night tours where you might get attacked by zombie prisoners.
Go on a Wine Tour
The Hawke’s Bay Region has incredible wines and there are wine tours available which will take you around to the local vineyards for a taste. All tours also provide a cheese board of local New Zealand cheeses to pair with the wine.
You can even arrange a tour that allows time for a winery lunch and a chance to take a walk along the vines and learn about the unique growing environment here.
Ride a Bike to Visit Cape Kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers is a point on the southern tips of the Hawke’s Bay region, where you will find a colony of Gannets. These large sea birds migrate there every year and nest in large numbers on the cape.
When I was in Napier, a friend and I rented bikes and rode to the cape. It was a two hour bike ride, followed by a two hour walk down the beach to get to the gannet colony. If you don’t want to bike, you can book a ride on a trailer which is towed by tractors and takes visitors out to the cape.
Visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand
This great aquarium is the ideal place to learn about marine life – with a reef tank and sharks, stingrays, octopus, trout, eels, sea horses and many hundreds of fish species. There is even a moving sidewalk that takes you beneath an enormous Oceanarium, so that you can feel like you are underwater.
Don’ miss the kiwi bird exhibit – these tiny flightless birds are an emblem of New Zealand and a fascinating species.
These are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy in Napier, so take some time out to explore this great North Island city.