Choose from 3 Fun Things to Do in Napier
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There’s no doubting that New Zealand is one of the world’s most desirable destinations. After all, this is the land of Middle Earth—where the landscape is carved of mountain and sea and reality and fantasy are one. Despite the nation’s popularity, however, the eastern cape of New Zealand’s North Island largely goes unnoticed. Much of this has to do with the fact there’s no international airport, but for those who endure the winding journey to the land surrounding Hawke’s Bay, one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets is waiting out on the coast. The main towns of Napier and Hastings are awash in art deco architecture, and the region is rapidly making a name for its numerous award-winning wines. The Maori culture here in Hawke’s Bay is some of New Zealand’s strongest, and the Matariki Maori New Year is celebrated here more heavily and fully than anywhere else in the country. Take a stroll on Cape Kidnappers past thousands of nesting seabirds, or visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand on Napier’s Marine Parade. This is the world’s first spot to experience dawn and a land of empty shorelines—and New Zealand travelers would rave about it more if only they knew it was here.
Hawke’s Bay is located nearly six hours from Auckland and three hours from Wellington. Taupo and Rotorua are a little bit closer at only two hours away, and Hawke’s Bay airport outside of Napier is serviced by domestic flights. This area is also one of New Zealand’s sunniest and there’s never a bad time to visit, and making the journey all the way out east is often half of the fun.
Address: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, New Zealand
From $ 64
Like a stone monastery rising up from the vines of Napier’s fertile plains, Church Road Winery is one of the oldest and finest Hawke’s Bay wineries. Established in 1897, this vineyard was the first in all of New Zealand to release a Cabernet Sauvignon, and when bottles hit shelves in 1949 they were instant New Zealand classics. Fast-forward over half a century, and Church Road Winery has been completely renovated and is still one of Napier’s best. Aside from the a la carte restaurant on site and imposing cellar door, where rows of wine barrels stand in for pews you might find in a dimly lit church, one of the best parts of visiting Church Road winery are the daily cellar tours. Learn the history of Church Road Winery and the time-honed winemaking process, and pair the wines with succulent foods in an intimate, boutique tasting area. You’ll also find a wine museum beneath the tasting area, where some of the country’s oldest wine relics are housed in concrete vats. Throughout the tour you can talk with the staff about wine and the Hawke’s Bay terroir, and elevate your level of wine expertise at one of New Zealand’s best wineries.
Tours take place daily at 11am and 2pm from the end of October-April, and at 2pm daily from May-October.
Address: 150 Church Road, Taradale, Napier, New Zealand 4112, New Zealand
Hours: Open daily 10am-4:30pm (open at 10:30am May-October)
Admission: $17.50 for tour and tasting
From $ 85
New Zealand produces some of the world’s most renowned, award-winning wines, and Mission Estate Winery on the outskirts of Napier is where it all began. Founded in 1851, Mission Estate was started by missionaries who journeyed from France with little more than a dream and a couple of vines. Now, nearly two centuries later, Mission Estate continues to operate as one of New Zealand’s best wineries, and is a staple on any shore excursion or wine tasting tour of Napier.
Head down the tree lined driveway toward the old fashioned estate and its fountain, and you'll immediately fall for the history and regal charm of the area. Step outside on the hilltop veranda for a view of the vineyard landscapes leading back to Napier’s downtown or to sip in the sun protected by the shade of one of the winery's big, white outdoor umbrellas.
Mission Estate Winery is located around 5 miles (8 km) from the heart of downtown Napier, and is about a 10-minute drive. You can access the winery by car, bike, and organized tour—a great option for anyone looking to enjoy their wine without drawing straws for designated driver.
The winery is open daily from 9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday, and from 10:30am to 4:30pm on Sunday.
Did You Know? Along the Mission Estate driveway, there is still one row of Muscat grapes that have been grafted from the original vines that were brought by the French missionaries.
Address: 198 Church Road, Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Hours: Mon–Sat: 9am–5pm; Sun: 10:30am–4:30pm
From $ 39