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Cheap Car Hire Napier Airport
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Hawke's Bay Attractions
A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Napier and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Hawke's Bay you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those on the tabs below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the Hawke's Bay Tourism website.
The famously sunny, warm and dry Hawke’s Bay is the second biggest wine producing region in the country and the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Red wines are the specialty here, from merlot to cabernet sauvignon and syrah, but its whites, including chardonnay, are no less impressive. Worthy dessert style wines are also now coming out of the region and continue to be refined and developed.
There are dozens of wineries near Napier to explore - pick up a wine trail map from a visitor centre. Restaurant and alfresco dining is available at many vineyards.
The country’s oldest operating winery is here at the acclaimed Mission Estate, originally established by French missionaries, and its traditional viticultural techniques have been handed down from generation to generation. Historic Church Road Winery also has over a century behind its name, and is home to an informative wine museum.
So pick up your rental car in Napier and head for the vines - you won’t regret it. From the reds cultivated on the hillsides, the alluvial and dry soils of Gimblett Gravels, through to crisp coastal vineyards, there is plenty to slake your thirst.
Don’t miss the chance to taste the flavours of the area. You can tour an orchard, farm or cheese maker. Or pay a visit to the excellent Hastings farmers market and pick up fresh produce and organic products.
Food and wine festivals are also regulars on the local calendar - one of the top events is the annual Food and Wine Classic (FAWC), with both a winter and summer series if you’re lucky enough to be travelling here during those dates. It is held at several different locations and offers the chance to rub shoulders with food producers, chefs, wine makers and many more stalwarts of the gourmet world.
Just half an hour from Napier in your rental car, the sandstone headland of Cape Kidnappers awaits. Here lies the biggest and most accessible gannet colony on earth, with over 6000 pairs of birds. The Black Reef and Saddle colonies are closed to the public, but you can view the Black Reef one from the beach. The adult gannets are a sight to behold with wing spans of up to 2 metres, conducting sweeping dives into the water in pursuit of live fish.
The best viewing is over the summer. The first chicks typically hatch in November and then leave the colony before winter sets in, to head for warmer climates. Public access is closed from July to October, so that the birds can nest in undisturbed peace.
Getting to Cape Kidnappers is an adventure in itself. You can walk along the beach toward the gannet colonies - it’s 8 km from Clifton to the Cape - at low tide. Check the tide times before leaving at an information centre or in the newspaper. Alternatively you can take a tour on a 4WD vehicle or ride on a tractor along the beach. Helicopter safaris are another option.
The other key draw at Cape Kidnappers is its cliff top golf course. The par 71 course was designed by American golf architect Tom Doak. The acclaimed sixth hole at Cape Kidnappers is world renowned but every single hole boasts amazing landscape views. The terrain is challenging along with the wind; the land is covered in dunes, ridges and ravines, with a 100 plus metre drop to the oceans below.
And for those looking to splurge on accommodation, you can’t go past The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. A stay at this luxury lodge includes spa treatments, pool and jacuzzi, gym and personal training, and of course, a multitude of beautiful trails to explore on foot.
Your first stop when in Napier should be a trip along the waterfront Marine Parade. The ocean shore views are lovely, as are the various sculptures, colourful fountains and pretty gardens that you’ll see along the way. There are plenty of places to stop and relax; boutique and gift shops to browse, and places to stop for a drink or meal.
The Marine Parade gardens on the foreshore were created after Napier’s defining earthquake in 1931. Land was reclaimed from the sea using rubble from buildings. The sound shell was erected to commemorate the anniversary of the earthquake.
Napier’s Sunken Garden was formed in the 1960s and is so named as it sits below road level, enjoying a sense of tranquillity. A flight of steps framed by pohutakawa trees leads down into this garden. A pond and an old waterwheel are part of the reserve.
Don’t miss the iconic Pania of the Reef statue, a bronze sculpture that is guaranteed to catch your eye. Legend tells that after marrying the chief Karitoki - who was awed by her beauty after seeing her at the Hukarere freshwater spring - Pania would return to the sea and her people every day, only travelling back to shore at night to be by her husband’s side. Eventually the draw was so strong she tried to escape for good. However her young son was turned into a shark and lived out his days in the waters of Hukarere while Pania herself was transformed into the reef.
Along Marine Parade in central Napier you will also find the local war memorial centre, and other key Napier attractions such as Marineland and the national aquarium.
Art Deco architecture
Napier is famous for its well preserved Art Deco architecture - few cities anywhere in the world can rival it on this front. This all came about following a huge earthquake in 1931 that destroyed the city centre, lasting nearly three minutes.
Rebuilding efforts were swift and up sprung buildings in the style of art deco and Spanish mission.
There are many architectural landmarks to stop and admire - the ASB Bank building is notable for its zig zags and Maori inspired koru. The iconic T&G building is one of the most photographed in New Zealand, with bold details and a unique copper domed roof and clock tower (it has been converted into penthouse holiday apartments, but was once the headquarters of an insurer). The Masonic Hotel will wow with its simple yet striking features while the National Tobacco Building bears the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, courtesy of local architect Louis Hay. And out in the suburb of Marewa you will find whole enclaves of residential homes built in the art deco style.
Take a stroll around the streets of Napier on a self guided walk; you can pick up a map at the local information centre. Or take a guided tour - a knowledgeable local will bring the scenes around you to life - available through the day every day, rain or shine (except for Christmas Day). If you’d rather gaze out of a window as you cruise by, then there are art deco bus tours and even vintage car tours. Another stylish option is the Hawke’s Bay Express. Choose this if you want to experience a ride on the roads in a steam train. The vintage inside is simply splendid and the commentary - both informative and entertaining - is a highlight.
The Art Deco shop in Napier’s central quarter sells a variety of gifts, books and other collectible items. You can also purchase tickets here for the annual Art Deco Weekend, held each February, a throwback to the 1930s and a retro extravaganza of vehicles, music and fashion.
The National Aquarium is a stand out attraction in Napier. Physically its architecture, shaped like a stingray, dominates its unique position on the coast; it’s as close as you can get to the sea here without actually getting your feet wet! Fresh sea water is actually pumped straight into the aquarium’s tanks and exhibits, using cutting edge technology and systems.
The National Aquarium first opened in 2002, complete with reef tank and travelator. Take the moving walkway beneath the Oceanarium, which replicates New Zealand’s rocky shores, for a true underwater experience. There are diving displays and behind the scenes tours held in both the morning and afternoon. You can even swim with the sharks at the National Aquarium! You do not need to be a qualified diver, either. The experience is a surface swim rather than a deep scuba dive and is fully supervised. Thrills are guaranteed - it’ll get your heart pounding and blood pumping.
There are stingrays, alligators, sea horses, eels, trout, turtles, octopus, tuatara, frogs, even water dragons and countless types of fish. No other facility in the country comes close to its sheer variety of species. There is even a kiwi house! You can have a close encounter with several of the creatures at the aquarium, helping to prepare their food and feed them - the little penguins, the kiwi, tuatara, alligators, piranha and tropical fish.
The National Aquarium also has a marine themed souvenir shop so you can take away a memento of your visit with you, and the appropriately named Fish Bowl Cafe offering refreshments. It’s close to the city centre and rental car depots.
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Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
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