Napier, New Zealand: Art, Wine, and Seaside Vista’s

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Napier, New Zealand: Art, Wine and Beautiful Seaside

Squeezing into Port NapierWe arrived in Hawke’s Bay on a bright and sunny morning, with the cutest red tugs meeting us to guide our way to our port docking.  Our docking task turned out to be one of the most challenging of our cruise to date, which was confirmed by the bridge crew a few days later.  As we approached the port, we tried to guess where we would be tied up, and all our guesses were wrong.  The Captain had to spin the ship 180 degrees before backing the ship into the port, maneuvering in a U-shape around the port, and slipping past a large tanker on our bow before coming to a rest alongside the innermost part of the pier. Our skilled crew and light wind made it look easy, and we were soon secured safely inside the Napier port.

Napier, New Zealand, is famous for art, wine, and seaside activities. It is nestled along the beautiful Hawke’s Bay and is a true gem in the country’s landscape. Known for its unique blend of art, exquisite wine, and breathtaking coastal scenery, Napier offered us an unparalleled experience combining cultural richness with natural beauty. This region is known for wine, so Bob and I were heading out to explore the countryside on a premier wine tour excursion by Viking.

Every year, Napier is home to the Napier Art Deco Festival in mid-February, where over 40,000 people from all over the world.Classic old cars and cars on exhibit with owners participate in this unique event.  Most dress in 1920s clothing and can participate in over 200 wine, food, and music events.  Unfortunately, we were just a few weeks too early, but we were given a taste of the event as we disembarked from our ship and were greeted by several old classic cars with their owners all dressed in period clothing.  They stayed next to the ship all day and were great fun to talk to either on our way out or back to our ship at the end of the day.

Art Deco Street Corner Napier New ZealandThe Artistic Tapestry of Napier: Napier’s distinct charm lies in its well-preserved Art Deco architecture, a testament to its resilience after the devastating 1931 earthquake. The town was devasted by this earthquake and rebuilt in an Art Deco theme, which still stands today. As we drove through the streets, we gazed upon an entire town adorned with geometric patterns and pastel colors, creating a unique backdrop for the city’s artistic spirit. Many of our passengers were taking a guided walking tour to learn about the history of these architectural wonders and the stories they tell.

The city is also home to a thriving arts community, with galleries and studios showcasing the works of both local and international artists. The Art Deco Trust hosts regular events and exhibitions, celebrating the city’s heritage and fostering a dynamic artistic environment. From contemporary paintings to traditional Maori art, Napier’s art scene offers diverse visual delights for every art enthusiast.

Savoring the Flavors:

Napier is a paradise for food and wine connoisseurs, boasting a culinary scene that rivals the best in the world. Unfortunately, we did not have time to indulge in the local cuisine, which had an abundance of fresh seafood and farm-to-table delicacies. Other passengers reported that they found numerous cafes and restaurants lining the streets, offering a delightful mix of flavors to suit every palate.

However, the true star of Napier’s gastronomic scene is its world-class wineries. Hawke’s Bay is renowned for producing some of New.Brookfield Winery Hawke's Bay - top wines Zealand’s finest wines and Napier proudly stands at the heart of this wine region. As we headed out on our Premier Wine Tour, our driver/guide took great pride in telling us about the wine grown in the region.  It turns out he owned a winery himself and was both a grower and producer of wines in the area.  Our first stop was at the Brookfield Winery, where the owner did an excellent job of educating us all on wines as well as showcasing several of the different wines he produced, including Malbec, Merlot, and an award-winning blend of Cabernet and Merlot, which I, of course, had to buy a bottle of to take back to the ship.

Our next stop was the Delegat Winery, a large corporate winery that produces wine from local growers. The experience here was not as good as our first stop.  They shuffled us into a lovely courtyard for the tasting, but the person who presented the wine poured without explaining the wine or its grapes.  He acted like a poorly trained waiter pouring the wine.  We tasted several whites, including a chardonnay, a Pinot Gris, a desert ice wine, and a few reds.  The day’s star was the winery dog’s visit, who rounded the group, collecting love and attention from all of us.

Coastal Splendors:

Napier’s coastal beauty is a testament to the city’s diverse offerings. The marine promenade, stretching along the shoreline, invites visitors to enjoy leisurely strolls, bicycle rides, or play and relax on the golden sands of the beautiful seaside of Hawke’s Bay. The iconic Norfolk pines provide shade and add to the scenic charm of this waterfront promenade.

For those seeking adventure, Cape Kidnappers is a short drive away, offering dramatic cliffs and the largest mainland gannet colony in the world. Viking provided a guided tour to explore the rugged landscapes and witness these majestic seabirds in their natural habitat. The journey to Cape Kidnappers is scenic, unveiling panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.  Many passengers interested in birdwatching took this tour and raved about what they experienced.

Cape Kidnappers is also home to a famous golf course.  Bob and I would have loved to play this course if we had time during the day.

Napier, New Zealand: Where Art, Wine, and Seaside Unite:

What makes Napier truly special is the seamless integration of its artistic heritage, culinary excellence, and coastal wonders. We would love to return to Napier and spend more time.  Perhaps we’ll plan our visit to coincide with one of the city’s festivals, such as the Tremains Art Deco Festival or the Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Classic. These events showcase the best of Napier, bringing together locals and visitors to celebrate culture, creativity, and gastronomy.

Bob and I enjoyed our wine tour but felt as if we hadn’t gotten a chance to explore the city and immerse ourselves in the wonderful culture that they have worked very hard to develop.  Next time, we will be sure to explore the streets adorned with Art Deco motifs, sip on exquisite wines overlooking the vineyards, and bask in the coastal serenity, getting a better understanding of why Napier, New Zealand, is a destination that leaves a lasting impression. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a wine lover, or someone who appreciates the coast’s beauty, Napier offers a perfect blend of cultural richness and natural wonders.

Saying Goodbye:

Saying Goodbye to Napier, New Zealand, with its art, wine, and coastal delights, made us sad as we had not explored the cute town. From the charming streets adorned with Art Deco architecture to the vineyards producing world-class wines and the breathtaking coastal landscapes, Napier offers a unique and unforgettable experience. If you get a chance to visit, embrace the city’s cultural vibrancy, savor its culinary treasures, and immerse yourself in the coastal splendors that make Napier a true masterpiece in the heart of Hawke’s Bay.

Our tugs guided us out of the Harbor and did the customary 360 spin to say goodbye as we sailed off into the sunset, heading towards Wellington, our last stop in New Zealand, before heading to Australia.

 

 

Fun things to do in Napier, New Zealand

Land of Art, Wine, and Seaside Treasures!

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony Duration: 4.50 Hours

One of Only Two Mainland Colonies in the World — Drive with your guide along Napier’s scenic Marine Parade and Hawke’s Bay, passing dramatic stands of tall Norfolk pines. Follow an unpaved road across rolling pastures, riverbeds, and gullies from Cape Kidnapper Station. We will stop just a few yards from the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, giving you a close-up look at the birds. Gannets are easily recognized by their distinctive black eye markings and pale gold crowns. They arrive here in late July, and their chicks hatch about four months later. Watch as gannets swoop and dive for food, preen themselves, or perform their ritual mating dance. Enjoy a refreshing tea after time to marvel at this symphony of song and flight. En route back to your ship, take a brief orientation drive through the Art Deco District of Napier.

Gin Tasting at Napier’s Art Deco Gem

Tour a Modern Gin Distillery in a Classic Setting — Embark on a scenic drive to view some of Napier’s iconic art deco buildings, stopping at the former National Tobacco Company. During a tour, hear the story of its founder, Gerhard Husheer, an industrial pioneer and a local legend in Hawke’s Bay, who supported the community through the Great Depression. Explore the opulent art deco building, admiring the wooden doors carved by Walter Isaac Marquand and the elaborate dome as you sip on a refreshing gin and tonic. On the distillery floor, get a glimpse of how the gin is made, using endemic botanicals that provide the gin with its distinctive aromatic flavors. After your tour, enjoy a tasting in the ballroom with the option to purchase before returning to your ship.

Tukituki River Valley & Wine Tasting Duration: 4.00

Picturesque Landscapes and New Zealand Winery Visit — Embark on a scenic drive by motor coach across the striking Tukituki River Valley, admiring stunning landscapes. Stop at pretty Havelock North, where you can enjoy delicious ice cream at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre. Then, head across the Ngaruroro River and continue through the region of Gimblett Gravels, famous for producing high-quality wines from 32 wineries and growers. The nutrient-rich soils and warmer climate combine with the expertise of local winemakers to produce refined premium wines here. Stop at one such winery to learn about its history, stroll through its vineyards, and later sample some of the country’s most sought-after wines. After a rewarding outing, you will return to your ship.

They arrive here in late July, and their chicks hatch about four months later. Watch as gannets swoop and dive for food, preen themselves, or perform their ritual mating dance. Enjoy a refreshing tea after time to marvel at this symphony of song and flight. En route back to your ship, take a brief orientation drive through the Art Deco District of Napier.

Hawke’s Bay Express Duration: 1.25 Hours

Travel in Style Through the Art Deco Heart of Napier — The Hawke’s Bay Express features velvet-covered cushioned seats, spacious carriage benches, tall windows, polished wooden floors, and tasseled curtains. With the bell ringing and the whistleblowing, head out along the scenic Marine Parade and travel into the heart of Napier, passing some of the world’s most stunning examples of Art Deco architecture, including the impressive facade of the National Tobacco Building. The train will continue over Bluff Hill, an area featuring early settlers’ homes, and down to the old port village in the Ahuriri district. The onboard commentary includes magical descriptions of New Zealand culture, including Maori legends. Back on the Marine Parade, you may disembark to explore Napier on foot or remain on board the train and return to your ship.

Premier Estate Winery & Abbey Cellars Duration: 3.50 Hours

A Taste of Region’s Leading Wine Producers — Vines were first planted in Hawke’s Bay in 1851; today, the region’s mild climate and copious sunshine combine to produce high-quality wines—journey through the stunning scenery to one of the leading wineries in the region. Gain insight into the winery’s history during a guided tour and participate in a wine tasting. Then, take a guided tour of the vineyards, followed by a tasting of the estate’s wine and a delicious cheese platter. Next, head to Abbey Cellars, established in 2002 by the Haworth family. This single-estate boutique wine producer employs traditional wine-making techniques in which grapes are handpicked and aged in premium-quality French oak barrels. Enjoy a winery tour, followed by tasting its wines with cheese.

Goat Station & Sheep Farm in the Tukituki River Valley

Witness Farming Traditions Amid Stunning Landscapes — Experience life on a New Zealand goat station and sheep farm and take in spectacular coastal and mountain scenery. Your outing begins with a drive along Napier’s stunning, tree-lined Marine Parade, then proceeds along the coast to the Tukituki Dairy Goats. This family-run farm has nearly 1,000 dairy goats and a sheep operation. Visit the shed where the goats live year-round and sample fresh goat milk straight from the vat. Then, witness how sheep are expertly shorn and watch with amazement as a highly trained Kiwi sheepdog and its master show you how the flock is kept in line. You will be amused and impressed by the dog’s intelligence. Afterward, you will travel back to Napier via the coast, crossing the Tukituki River Valley on a scenic drive with striking views of the 1,300-foot-high Te Mata Peak en route back to your ship.

Hawke’s Bay Wine Tasting Duration: 1.25 Hours

Sample Varietals from Across the Region — At the historic Hawkes Bay Club, meet a Hawke’s Bay wine representative who will provide a brief overview of this diverse wine-growing region, best known for its Merlot-Cabernet blends, Syrah and Chardonnay. You will receive your complimentary tasting glass and detailed notes of the vintages presented by the eight winemakers in attendance, then begin your tasting journey. Sample up to three varietals from various regions across Hawke’s Bay; once you have discovered your favorite, you can purchase and send a supply to stock your cellar, ready for your return home. In the Heritage Room, local artisan producers will offer a selection of delicacies; try a tasty treat before you depart and return to your awaiting ship.

Classic Car Ride Duration: 1.00 Hours

Explore Napier’s Art Deco Past in a Classic Car — You will be met by your driver, who will be wearing an Art Deco-era costume, and take your seat in a beautiful vintage car as you relive the glamour and style of one of the world’s top art deco cities. You will see the best of it as your elegant car rides through the Ahuriri and Marewa districts; here lie some of Napier’s finest examples of urban and residential art deco architecture, including the impressive 1933 National Tobacco Building. Moving on through the city, stop to visit the elegant Art Deco Trust Center, where you may choose to stay and watch a short movie that tells the story of the earthquake of 1931 and the region’s recovery, resulting in the stunning Art Deco City that remains today. Afterward, return to your ship by shuttle bus.

E-Bike & Winery Duration: 3.50 Hours

Scenic Cycle and Wine Tasting at Local Winery — Admire striking coastal views while cycling on an electronic bike en route
to an award-winning winery. On the way to the start of your 9-mile tour, listen to the intriguing story of how the Maori navigated their canoes across the ocean from Polynesia to New Zealand. Upon arrival, receive your e-bike, plus a short safety briefing and orientation, then set off along the scenic Hawke’s Bay Trail. Enjoy sweeping views of the Pacific and stop at the Ahuriri Wetlands to observe the endemic birdlife and sheep that inhabit the area. Upon reaching the suburb of Taradale, you will cycle along the urban trails toward one of the renowned wineries of Hawke’s Bay for a well-deserved taste of the iconic estate’s wines, accompanied by a delicious cheese platter. Afterward, you will return to your ship via van or motor coach.

Napier, New Zealand: Where History, Geography, and Culture Unite

Introduction to Napier, New Zealand:

Napier, located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is a city that seamlessly blends a rich history, diverse geography, and vibrant culture. From its resilient rise after the 1931 earthquake to the picturesque landscapes that surround it, Napier stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of its people. In this exploration, we will delve into the captivating history, unique geography, and cultural tapestry that make Napier a captivating destination.

History:

Napier’s history is marked by a defining moment—the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931. The earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, devastated the city and the surrounding areas. However, out of the ruins emerged a unique opportunity for rebirth. The city was reconstructed during the 1930s, and the prevailing architectural style of the time, Art Deco, left an indelible mark on Napier.

Today, the city stands as one of the best-preserved Art Deco cities in the world. Visitors can take guided walking tours to witness the geometric patterns, pastel colors, and intricate detailing that adorn the buildings, telling the story of Napier’s resilience and determination to rebuild.

Before European settlement, the area was inhabited by the indigenous Maori people. The region’s Maori heritage is still evident in various aspects of Napier’s culture, from art to language. The blending of Maori and European influences has created a rich and unique cultural identity that defines Napier.

Geography:

Napier is situated in the Hawke’s Bay region, known for its diverse landscapes and favorable climate. The city is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges to the west. The combination of coastal plains and mountainous terrain provides a stunning backdrop to the urban landscape.

One of the geographical highlights near Napier is Cape Kidnappers, a prominent headland named by Captain James Cook in 1769. The cape is not only a natural marvel but also home to the largest mainland gannet colony in the world. Visitors can embark on tours to witness these seabirds in their natural habitat and explore the rugged beauty of the cape.

The marine influence of the Pacific Ocean contributes to Hawke’s Bay’s status as one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. The vineyards that stretch across the plains benefit from a temperate climate, creating ideal conditions for grape cultivation. Hawke’s Bay is particularly renowned for its red wines, making it a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts.

Culture:

Napier’s cultural tapestry is woven from threads of both Maori and European heritage. The city embraces its Art Deco legacy, with annual events like the Tremains Art Deco Festival attracting enthusiasts from around the globe. During the festival, the streets come alive with vintage cars, costumed locals, and a vibrant celebration of the city’s architectural heritage.

The Maori influence is evident in various aspects of Napier’s culture, from traditional arts and crafts to the use of Maori names for landmarks and streets. Visitors can engage with the local Maori community through cultural experiences, including performances, workshops, and guided tours that provide insight into the indigenous heritage of the region.

Napier’s cultural scene extends to its thriving arts community, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing a diverse range of artworks. The city hosts events and exhibitions that celebrate local and international artists, contributing to a dynamic and creative atmosphere.

Conclusion:

Napier, New Zealand, is a city where history, geography, and culture converge to create a unique and captivating destination. From the resilient reconstruction after the 1931 earthquake to the diverse landscapes that surround the city, Napier offers a rich tapestry of experiences. The fusion of Maori and European influences has shaped a cultural identity that is celebrated through festivals, art, and a deep connection to the land. Whether exploring the Art Deco architecture, savoring the wines of Hawke’s Bay, or immersing oneself in Maori traditions, Napier invites visitors to embark on a journey that transcends time and embraces the essence of this remarkable city.