The biggest natural attraction in the vicinity of Napier is the colony of Australasian gannets (Sula bassana serrator) at Cape Kidnappers. This is the world’s largest mainland gannet colony, the only other one being at Muriwai Beach, near Auckland. These large sea-birds usually only breed on small isolated islands, so Cape Kidnappers provides a unique opportunity to see them up close. The best time to view the birds is between early November and late February.
There are organised trips out to the colony but for those who want to walk the starting point is Clifton Domain, 13 miles (21km) southeast of Napier, near Te Awanga. The 5 mile (8km) walk runs along the beach and takes about two hours. As this route is only possible when the tide is out, it is best to start 3 hours after high tide and to return no later than 1 1/2 hours after low tide. Tide schedules are available from the Napier Information Centre.