Lined with tall Norfolk pines, Napier’s lovely Marine Parade lures the visitor with a variety of attractions. Performing dolphins and seals can be seen at Marineland, while the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium has a fascinating collection of marine life including sharks and piranhas. New Zealand’s unique tuatara is also on display here.
Close to Marineland is the Stables Complex. The attractions here are a waxworks museum and Earthquake 31, a simulation of the great quake. They also show historic movie footage taken before and after the Napier earthquake.
The Napier-Hastings earthquake is also featured at the excellent Hawke’s Bay Museum, further north along the Marine Parade. One of the best permanent exhibitions here is Nga Tukemata (The Awakening) which deals with the art of the East Coast’s Ngati Kahungunu people. Other permanent exhibitions cover Art Deco, colonial history and arts and crafts in New Zealand.
North of the museum, the Kiwi House is unique in that it is the only such place in New Zealand where visitors can actually touch and feed a kiwi. Other creatures kept here include bush-geckoes, native land-snails, moreporks and whistling frogs.
Those in search of a great view should venture to the top of Bluff Hill where the look-out offers a panoramic vista of the entire Hawke Bay coastline. To get there, follow the signpost from Lighthouse Road at the northern end of town.