The 1931 earthquake did much to shape today’s City of Napier. The quake and the fire that followed all but destroyed the downtown business area. Reconstructed in the Art Deco style, the new Port of Napier took on a unique and charming look. Moving the rubble to make way for new construction, the eastern shore became gardens and recreational areas. The earthquake also raised the land in the Port of Napier by several meters, making the existing estuary dry land and creating room for the city to grow.
The Port of Napier is home to the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The aquarium holds the largest collection of marine animals and indigenous species (including sharks, crocodile, piranha, and kiwi) than any other facility in New Zealand. It is home to the tuatara, a native New Zealand lizard that is considered to be a living dinosaur. So close to the sea that fresh seawater is pumped directly into the tanks and enclosures, the aquarium also houses exhibits of the latest life support technology and operational systems. You can travel under the oceanarium and watch hundreds of fish swim around and above you.
The Port of Napier has many walkways and paths that link the city’s neighborhoods and afford many opportunities for pleasant quiet strolls. Ranging over hills to river- and sea-side locations, visitors can choose from a mix of circular, one-way, and inter-linked walkways.
About 36 kilometers south-southeast of the Port of Napier is the Waimarama Seaside Resort, a camp near the sea where families can enjoy a safe, friendly holiday break. No pets are allowed, but the camp is just a two-minute walk from the surf beach and very near shops and take-aways. Facilities include powered and non-powered tent and caravan sites, showers, toilets, a coin-operated laundry, a kitchen, and a covered barbeque area.
Waimarama Beach has lots of sun, sand, and surf. It’s a perfect beach for surfing and for swimming. Patrolled regularly though the summer by the local surf lifesaving club, the beach is safe and comfortable for everyone, including young children. The beach is complemented by a bar with in- and outdoor dining. Fishers will enjoy surfcasting, and divers and snorkelers will enjoy exploring the offshore areas. A boat launch is also available.
Cape Kidnappers at the southern end of Hawke Bay 22 kilometers across the water from the Port of Napier is home to a family of gannets. The Department of Conservation manages the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve covering, about 13 hectares, to protect the nesting sites. While the conservation area is closed to the public, visitors can view the Black Reef colony from the beach, and you can watch nesting gannets at the Plateau colony. In addition to the wildlife, visitors are in awe of the geologic cliff formations on the coast at Cape Kidnappers.
Hawke’s Bay is huge. The Hawke’s Bay Wine Country is diverse, bountiful, and stunning. With a Mediterranean-like climate, visitors can tour the area and enjoy the natural beauty and the wonderful wines in year-round temperatures of around 19°C (67°F) and lots of beautiful sunshine.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Napier and the Hawke’s Bay region can find a list of scheduled cruises by searching for “Napier” on the Cruise Compete website.