I’m talking the inner city … Ahuriri watch out!

Lots of little elements – poetry on external walls, so much good coffee, the walkability of the main shopping and dining area, the galleries clustered nice and close, the sea breeze – have been there for ages, but 2019 seemed to bring them and more together to create a fresh, urban, uniquely Napier vibe.

We share the Art Deco City with throngs of cruiseshippers by day in the summer. They wander about in groups, buses fill Marine Parade and Tennyson Street at the start and end of the visits, the footpaths and shops get a little congested as mostly American, Australian and British accents fill the air in the cafes.

But when they sail off on their mammoth floating hotels to Tauranga or Wellington, and the sun drops low in the big Hawke’s Bay sky, we’re left with our inner city, which is growing livelier and more interesting by the week.

The outdoor spaces at both are humming by the time five o’clock rolls around, and you’re sure to bump into half of the city’s service workers and professionals. 

This summer, stick around. Napier’s after-five economy is growing. Much effort has been put in by the Napier City Business Inc team over the last year as they’ve explored ways to get us using our town more. 

It started with a beer bike serving crafties at different eateries in the winter and spring, getting those of us who work in the central city out for a drink and a chat at the close of the business day. This little test series showed the appetite for the local hospitality operators and the punters.

Happy hours have been added, event news is being circulated regularly, local promotions are getting attention through e-news campaigns and more signage on the streets. During FAWC in November, the Progressive Cocktail party which took in Kolachi Eatery & Bar, Monica Loves, Vinci’s Pizza, Bistronomy, Mamacita, Market St, Matisse, Cafe Tennyson + Bistro, Emporium Eatery & Bar, and Lone Star Cafe & Bar reminded us how lucky we are to have such a great range of drinking and dining establishments in walking distance.

There is talk of lighting projects and way-finding tools coming in the next year or so to make enjoying Napier on foot even easier. In the meantime, how about you start at Matisse on Herschell Street, perusing the epic wine list. If it overwhelms you, even better, just get one of the clued-up staff to select for you. Perhaps pop to Emporium for their Friday night special cocktail creation, and soak up the opulent décor – it’s lovely and cool in here when it’s hot out. Keen for a classic pub experience? Around the corner to The Rose for what ails you. Want to eat really, really well? Bistronomy, Central Fire Station, Mister D – take your pick, or do a course at each. 

You could spend the whole evening at either Market St (the ghosts of the old Cri have been vanquished, promise) or over the road and down the alley at Monica Loves, but why not bounce about between them? The outdoor spaces at both are humming by the time five o’clock rolls around, and you’re sure to bump into half of the city’s service workers and professionals, along with a healthy smattering of international working-holiday types and tourists who decided to stick around for just a little longer. 

You’ll find great margaritas and Mexican at Mamacita on Tennyson Street, mouth-watering Thai food at Sai Thai on Emerson and world-famous-in-Hawke’s Bay pizza at Vinci’s on Hastings Street. Park up with a slice in their alleyway outdoor seating area or get it ‘to go’ and kick back on the lawn by the cathedral fountain. 

We’re lucky with this pretty little city. After a summer’s day at the beach or home or, heaven forbid, work, take a stroll into town. Even if you live in Havelock or Hastings or CHB or Wairoa, join us. There is no immigration office, no entry toll booth, no passport required. Come and play! 

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1 Comment

  1. Gosh – thank you so much for the invite! I did use to live in Napier, so I know what you are talking about… Then – I moved to Havelock North! Dear friends talk endlessly about getting a passport; going over the border; getting through immigration; etc etc…. One gorgeous friend gave me a $50 petrol voucher to ensure I could afford to ‘come over the border’
    Really?? I moved to Hawke’s Bay 20 years ago and settled in Napier… now I’m settled in Havelock North – close to my grandsons and their schools… but I’m still in Hawke’s Bay! Tell me again, why didn’t we amalgamate???

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