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For coastal views on New Zealand's North Island amid the famous vineyards of Hawke's Bay, head to Napier. This small city is home to many wineries, and the restaurants and bars serve locally produced bottles of Pinot Gris and Syrah. Napier is famous for its film-set-like streets with pastel-painted Art Deco architecture – mostly new builds after an earthquake in the 1930s. Along the seafront, a tree-lined promenade leads to the Marine Parade where you can spot some of the 50 creative murals that decorate the city.
Napier hostels are just as unique as its famed architecture. Stay in a converted luxury hotel from the 1930s in the heart of the city, or sleep in the last Art Deco building constructed in Napier. You can unwind with a beer on an upstairs patio, or strike up a game of pool in communal spaces. You'll also find a Napier hostel in a wooden lodge, steps from the ocean and feels like a home away from home with a shared kitchen and free Wi-Fi.
As for neighbourhoods, Napier's central business district features the city's famous buildings full of quirky cafés and vibrant strips of shops, all a short walk from the Pacific Ocean and the restored Marine Parade. A 10-minute cycle from the centre will bring you to the old fishing village of Ahuriri, now an ultra cool area with boutique shops, art and design galleries and bars with easy-going vibes. Two of the area's oldest wineries, Mission Estate and Church Road, can be found in the calm suburb of Taradale.
After sightseeing along the Marine Parade, learn about the city's earthquake and Maori heritage at the MTG Hawke’s Bay museum and art gallery. You can explore the ocean from dry land at The National Aquarium of New Zealand, the largest in the country, or learn to stand-up paddle board on calm harbour waters. For dramatic landscapes and striking views, head to the nearby mountains and hike some of the trails at Te Mata Peak.
Napier is just a 20-minute drive from Hastings or 4 hours from Wellington. From Wellington Airport, catch the Airport Flyer Bus service to Wellington Railway station and the city's bus station, where you can grab a bus and be in Napier in around 5 hours. Once in the city, it's easy to get around on local public buses. Feeling adventurous? Go solo and hire a car or motorbike, or get a motorhome if you're heading into the wilderness.