After a pretty manic end to 2016, Dave and I had absolutely no inclination to plan an extended, extravagant summer holiday with the kids. There was to be nothing involving chilly-bins or tents, no road trips, no car/boat combo packed to the hilt…..
Some years that stuff seems easy, is easy, this year we just couldn’t manage it.
What we could do (and did lol), was plan a mini-vacay with minimal fuss, minimal rushing from here to there i.e a minimal, or even better, NO itinerary and minimal expense to be honest.
Napier was our choice of destination as it ticked all of those boxes plus even more.
In Napier City there are;
- Flights leaving from Auckland daily – we flew with our travel partner Jetstar
- Plenty of accommodation options right in town
- ‘Town’ happens to be a $25 dollar taxi ride from the airport, no rental car needed.
- ‘Town’ is right across the road from the beach, the pools, the fountain – which kids are welcome to play in!
- ‘Town’ is the Art Deco capital of New Zealand! Everywhere you look Napier is freaking stunning!
- Plenty of awesome family friendly activities you can do, again, without having to rent a car.
We loved it!
So what DID we do?
We arrived at 9.30am after our quick and easy 1-hour flight, jumped in a taxi that was waiting right outside the terminal and headed to our hotel to offload our bags. We always fly as early as we can for two reasons;
- The kids are better when they are well rested and fed. After breakfast is the perfect time to confine my boys to a small public space where they must remain seated lol.
- Arriving early means you’re not travelling during one of your allocated ‘holiday’ days! We always have our whole arrival day to explore and get cracking with making the most of our vacay time. Also, if you arrive prior to check-in, your hotel won’t mind storing your bags for you whilst you get your tourist on.
We stayed at the stunning Scenic Hotel Te Pania which boasts an unbeatable location right across from both the beach and the pools and a single block walk to the main hub of beachside Napier. We would absolutely stay here again, outstanding beds, great service and a lovely bar in which to sip a Hawkes Bar wine whilst working – as I had to throughout the trip lol.
On Friday we explored! We hit the shops, the stunning pier, had a swim, enjoyed cocktail hour and finished our day off with takeaway pizza in our hotel room! Kids were stoked lol.
On Saturday, Dave and I both had to work a little, so I took the kids across the street to the amazing beachside pool complex that is Ocean Spa Napier. With multiple pools and depths, there is something for everyone here and the boys begged to come back each day during our stay. It was also great value, a Family Pass cost us $30 and I was able to leave, pop into Subway for some lunch and bring it back to the boys and Dave. We spent most of the day here before heading out and about for another stroll, enjoying the Art Deco sights which are everywhere!
Sunday was one of the most fun family days we have ever had I’d day! The weather wasn’t amazing and we had to change plans a little but everything just fell into place.
We walked across the road to the beachside market in the morning for breakfast and were a tad overwhelmed by the choices on offer! Nixon enjoyed waffles-on-a-stick, Dave and I treated ourselves to humongous bacon and egg sandwiches and Ethan combined both into a bacon and egg waffle! We also picked up some fresh fruit as snacks for the remaining two days.
After filling our tanks, we rented bikes from Napier City Bike Hire and Tours on Marine Parade, who had the best prices and incredibly helpful and accommodating staff. Nix was well catered for with a super-comfy toddler seat on the back of my bike and so we headed north along Marine Parade. Our destination was Pandora Splash and Play, an easy, flat 5km cycle along the waterfront. We knew Ethan and Nix would have a lot of fun at the inflatable water playground however super high winds meant it was closed for safety reasons. Not really a big deal as we all enjoyed the ride anyway!
With some time on our hands, we pedalled south to the National Aquarium of New Zealand, locked up the bikes and spent a couple of blissful hours exploring hands-down, the BEST aquarium we’ve been to. Once again this was such great value for money, $54 for a family pass was definitely money well spent and money I’d spend again in a heartbeat.
Because we’re cheap lol and the children were too tired to risk eating out we had dinner in our room again, this time a roast chicken, salad and buns from Pak ‘n Save. Easy and delicious. When travelling, we often will visit a little cafe or restaurant later afternoon for a glass of wine, a beer for Dave and a couple of appetisers to share. This keeps the boys fed and happy and gives Mum and Dad a little respite and a chance to enjoy local offerings.
On our final day in sunny Napier, all we had on the agenda was relaxing, swimming and soaking up some of the sunshine that had been in such short supply in Auckland!
Dave headed off to get a skate in at the newly opened concrete skatepark, just south of the Sunken Gardens on Marine Parade whilst the boys and I headed back to the beach for more swimming. Of course, a trip to Napier with a small child wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the Tom Parker Fountain. Who am I kidding, BOTH of the boys swam in this fountain every day, playing with local kids and tourists alike.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped in at the Hog’s Breath Cafe for a fruity ‘umbrella’ drink and an ice-cream sundae for the boys to share – a perfect ending to an absolutely awesome long-weekend – and we didn’t even make it to any vineyards!
Visit Napier, do it with the kids, you’ll have an amazing time.
Thanks so much to our travel partner Jetstar, we love flying with you guys!