Reading about the Art Deco architecture and beautiful coastline attracted us to Napier. We later learned that the town had been almost completely destroyed by a large earthquake in 1931 and in rebuilding the townspeople went wild for Art Deco!
Arriving in town without a reservation we canvassed the waterfront which is lined with accommodations of all sorts. Our first choice, Pebble Beach, was booked but they recommended the Shoreline Motel which had an oceanfront room with a nice deck where we ate breakfast both mornings. The hotel manager, another friendly, helpful New Zealander, suggested the Mediterranean Wine Bar & Bistro for dinner. After a day of driving we relished the stroll down the waterfront to the restaurant and enjoyed some delicious red lentil encrusted shrimps and tender grilled lamb.
The next morning we headed to the National Aquarium which is on the waterfront and was walkable from our hotel. Feedings are at 1o:00 am so we quickly made our way over in time to see that. There is a cool moving conveyor that tunnels through the enormous tanks of fish, sharks, rays, and large crayfish. We also enjoyed the kiwi area – a large dark habitat where several kiwi live. Not sure how the kiwi birds ended up at the aquarium but we enjoyed spotting them and getting a sense of how they root around with their long beaks. They are very cute. Sorry, no pictures allowed in the kiwi room.
It was pouring when we came out of the aquarium so we dashed back to the hotel and then drove into town for a bite of lunch. Afterwards we walked around the town, picked up some fresh plums and nuts at a local health food store and then headed to wine country – our real attraction to the area.