Going ashore in Napier, New Zealand

Going ashore in Napier

The beautiful city of Napier is only 15 minute walk away from its port and it is situated in the Hawke’s Bay, at the foot of Bluff Hill. The port is one of the smallest ports I have ever been into and it can accommodate only few vessels, it does not have gantries, but only big mobile cranes.

Walking is not permitted inside the terminal and, even if the distance to the gate is very short, everybody must use the shuttle bus service which is provided and can be called upon.

Just in front of the gate, you can find the building of the Seafarer’s Centre which can be a very good option for a few hour gateway. The club offers free Wi-Fi internet, money exchange, a small shop and it is open between 6.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. – only when there are vessels inside the port.

If you continue the road from the left and follow the coast, you can arrive in ~ 15 minutes in the city and continue your visit at your own pace. You can walk up the 2 km long beach or just the coastal road – Marine Parade – or you can let yourself go with the flow and wander around the streets which are emerging out of it.


For a beautiful panoramic view over the Gulf, the port where your ship is docked and the other side of the Pacific Ocean, you can follow the road which is going up hill and reach the Bluff Hill observation point in ~ 30 minute.

Port of Napier, view from Bluff Hill (2)


Napier - view from Bluff Hill

Once you return to the sea level, you can continue your walk towards South on the Marine Parade. The beach is beautiful, but it can get quite windy sometimes and swimming is very dangerous due to strong currents all year round.


The Marine Parade is a wide open boulevard, lined with Norfolk Island pine trees and it which offers some of the greatest attractions in town:

  • an Ocean spa complex with swimming pools;
  • the National Aquarium of New Zealand;
  • the Sunken Gardens;


  • a mini-golf course;


  • beautiful gardens and parks;

Napier Marine Parade

  • bike and jogging lanes;
  • a ‘gravity park’ for rollers and bikers;


Emerson Street and Tennyson Street are the best places to discover the real heart and soul of the city. The city of Napier is world wide famous for its beautiful Art Deco buildings which replaced the old buildings lost in the great fire that followed one of the biggest natural disasters New Zealand had ever known – the earthquake from 1931. You can admire beautiful buildings which may remind you about some other city ports you have visited before – like Miami or Charleston – you can do some shopping or enjoy a nice meal and a drink in one of the restaurants and pubs which are open until late at night.

Napier Art Deco buildings (1)

Napier Art Deco buildings (2)


Napier Emerson Street

If you arrive in town on a Saturday morning, you can pay a visit to the open air weekly market which is held from early morning to 3 o’clock in the afternoon on designated streets in town, close to the centre. You will find a very good display of fresh and bio products, brought to the market directly from nearby farms and orchards – fruits, vegetables, honey, flower and decorative plants, diary and bakery products, sweets.

Napier weekly market


Tips and recommendations:

  • You can find the best souvenirs in town at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre situated on Marine Parade;


  • Wi-Fi Internet is available in all restaurants, bars and also in some phone booths in town;


  • The seafarer’s Centre is open between 18.30 and 21.30, but the Wi-Fi internet is available 24/7 and it can be accessed from outside using a password (you can find out the password from the agent);
  • The Seafarer’s Centre minivan offers free transportation to the centre (to the supermarket) during opening hours. Do not forget that the people working at the Seafarer’s Centre are all volunteers and small donations from your side are advisable.


Napier is one of the most picturesque and vivid cities I have ever seen and I am very grateful I had the chance of visiting it in a beautiful afternoon and accompanied by two locals.

Mr. Hamish and his wife, Mrs. Arti, were kind enough to show us around their beautiful town, they told us lots of stories and historical facts about the terrible earthquake from 1931 and the big fire that followed and destroyed most of the city. The earthquake was terrible, lots of lives were lost, but the city’s great instinct of survival prevailed and put the buildings back in their places after only two years of hard work. The new ArtDeco ‘face’ brought in a lot of fame and the city became a very popular destination visited by lots of tourists.

As we found out from Mr. Hamish, the city is world wide famous for another thing, too – its very good wine – but we were not lucky enough to taste it … We have to come back for at least one reason … and we will be back.

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