Napier City Guide

Napier is located in the Sunny Hawkes Bay Region of New Zealand. Napier is world famous for its Art Deco architecture, which is a major avenue for the city's tourist industry. The 1931 earthquake razed the city, so a new modern city sprung up in its place and is one of the worlds best examples of an Art Deco / Spanish Mission style architecture.

Hugging the coastline of the sparkling Pacific Ocean on the North Island's East Coast, Hawke's Bay is arguably one of New Zealand's warmest regions with summer temperatures (November-April) ranging from 20 degrees C to 35 degrees C and mild winters (June-September) averaging 15 degrees celsius.


Hawkes Bay enjoys perhaps the best climate in New Zealand with plentiful sunshine, blue skies and token winters. Internationally renowned vineyards produce award-winning wines and the many orchards that stud the region have earned Hawkes Bay the title "Fruitbowl" of New Zealand. Spring is the best time to visit when the orchards burst into blossom, private gardens open to the public, roses are in full bloom and wineries offer alfresco dining in the warm sun.

Napier, largely a retail centre, is situated right beside the ocean and utilises both its shipping port and airport as vital transport links with other New Zealand centres. Napier is world famous for its Art Deco architecture, which is a major avenue for the city's tourist industry.

In Napier the Paficic Ocean forms a stunning backdrop for The Sunken Gardens on Marine Parade. This pretty garden is maintained all year round and has stone pathways, disabled access, sheltered seating, and a water-lily sculpture feature. The Marine Parade Gardens extend from the War Memorial Centre to the Soundshell on the Marine Parade and overlooks the Pacific Ocean with the rugged and dramatic cliffs of Cape Kidnappers in the distance.

Napiers Art Deco front garden was built on the rubble of the great 1931 Earthquake and is probably New Zealands first urban sea-front. It includes the Veronica Sunbay, the Soundshell, the New Napier Arch and Colonnade, and the Tom Parker Fountain, all built in the 1930s, as well as the floral clock and the famous statue of Pania of the Reef. Spectacular at night, the gardens are a favourite promenade for locals and tourists. Clive Square Memorial Gardens offers a delightful oasis in the centre of Napier.

Take a sunny seat in a sidewalk cafe and order a delicious frothy cappuccino, a smooth latte or espresso. Perhaps accompanied by an innovative meal that takes the best of fresh Hawke's Bay produce and combines it with the flair of Napier's gourmet chefs. Breathe in the fresh ocean air. And look up.

In February during the Brebner Print Art Deco Weekend the whole town dresses up, vintage cars cruise the streets, jazz bands play and bi-planes swoop. Other times of the year you can enjoy the atmosphere in restaurants redolent of the era, browse through antique shops selling a plethora of Deco treasures or even experience a simulated earthquake.

Snuggle down for the night in the charm of a boutique hotel, a wonderful lodge or at one of the many backpacker lodges, hotels, motels, holiday parks or homestays.

Pania of the Reef


There is no story more romantic than that of Pania, the beautiful maiden of the sea people and Karitoki, her handsome Maori lover. It is said that Pania lived with her lover-husband in a whare (house) at a spot now known as Sturm's Gully, near the foot of the Napier breakwater. But the sea people were forever calling her. She resisted their call for a long time, but the lure of the sea people became irresistible and she swam out to meet them, just once. The sea people came from the depths and surrounded her, they drew her down into the caverns of the sea, never to return to the land of mortals. And now, if you pass over the reef where the kingfish shoal and gaze in to the depths, you will see Pania with arms outstretched, ever striving to return to the lover she left on that fateful day.


There is no story more romantic than that of P