Napier, New Zealand
Located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Napier is a pretty city with a tree-lined waterfront promenade and colorful art deco buildings that were all constructed within two years after a devastating 1931 earthquake wiped out nearly everything. It is also a convenient jumping-off point for touring the wineries of Hawke Bay. The port is often included on 10- to 14-night cruises that circumnavigate New Zealand’s North and South islands.
What We Love
Art Deco Architecture: Have a stroll through Napier’s candy-colored Art Deco Quarter — the city claims to have the world’s largest collection of 1930s art deco buildings reflecting the styles of the era. Local architect Louis Hay also worked Maori motifs into his designs; take a walking tour or get a map from the information center near the docks and enjoy a self-guided walk.
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve: See thousands of the yellow-headed birds as they nest among the craggy cliffs of Cape Kidnappers, located about 30 minutes by car from Napier. The Australasian gannet (takapu) is one of three species of gannet that belong to the booby family (of Galapagos fame) and they’ve been nesting at Cape Kidnappers since the 1870s.
Best Known For
Wineries: New Zealand produces some great wines and Napier is set amid the well-regarded vineyards of Hawke Bay, known for its pinot gris and syrah varieties. Sign up for one of your ship’s tasting excursions or head off on your own to sample the offerings at one or more local wineries, which include Ngatarawa, Trinity Hill and Te Awa.
Outdoor Adventure: New Zealand, all of it, is a natural wonderland — pristine forests, rolling farmland, snowcapped mountains and rocky coastline — and from Napier you can bike, hike, go river-rafting and even wander around a sheep farm to watch the critters getting sheared.
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Who It's Best For
Food & Wine Lovers: Over the past decade or two, New Zealand and neighboring Australia have made a big splash on the global food and wine scene. Some Napier-region vineyards also have restaurants, so you can taste the vino along with terrific fusion-inspired food focused on fresh ingredients.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Weather Is Fickle: Definitely dress in layers, as temperatures can rise and fall 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a single day — and it can be very windy.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.