The best things to see and do in Ahuriri

Take your time in this seaside village or you'll miss out on its beaches, galleries, shopping, top-notch dining and rich history, writes Elisabeth Easther.

Fine weather for watersports.
Fine weather for watersports.

Where is it? In Hawke's Bay, five minutes drive from Napier's CBD.

Origin of name: All of Napier was once called Ahuriri and was named for the great Maori chief Tu Ahuriri who cut a channel into the lagoon when the entrance became blocked.

Population: According to the 2013 Census, there are 1089 people living in 618 dwellings.

Now hear this: To learn more about the history of Ahuriri, there's a superb archive — an oral history project — that focuses on the area from the 1920s - 70s.

Best website: ahuriri.co.nz.

Big business: Big Save Furniture has its headquarters here, and it's massive.

Napier Port is a huge economic driver for the area and tourism is flourishing too.

An opportunity: If you want to move your business here (because everyone does) visit The Business Hub, a collaboration between Business Hawke's Bay and the local councils. They help newcomers figure out where to live and what to do and also offer a meeting space and mentorship.

The art deco entrance to the National Tobacco Company building.
The art deco entrance to the National Tobacco Company building.

Town fiestas: There's a lot going on, from the annual Art Deco Festival (in 2017, festivities will include a vintage costume beach dig) to sporting events such as IronMaori, an ironman event that sets off from Pandora Pond.

Blade runners: If you want to see something relatively eccentric, go to Waghorn St and watch The Company of the Sacred Sword do battle in historic costumes.

Here for a short time? You'd be silly if you thought you could whizz through Ahuriri in a jiffy — from the beach to the galleries, the shopping to the top-notch noshing, there's lots to love. And be sure to admire the handsome heritage buildings including The Crown Hotel and the National Tobacco Company building while you're at it.

Kids love: Swimming, fishing from the wharf, eating icecreams from the Cool Cat Ice Cream Parlour and exploring the rocky shore walkway where handy interpretation panels feed the mind.

Best playground: Right on the beach, Spriggs Park is split into two areas, one for little ones and another for older kids, and has heaps of climbing things, slides, a carousel and see-saws. The park also has outdoor showers, barbecues, shaded areas and a parents' room.

Best facilities: Spriggs Park Pavilion is as elegant and attractive as public conveniences can ever be. Photogenic even.

Best walk: Ahuriri Estuary walking track is a DoC delight, home to a thriving world of wading birds, aquatic plant life and fish. Featuring easy tracks and boardwalks, it's 2.8km one way and takes about an hour to complete. Or stroll around Pandora Pond, which takes about 45 minutes to circumnavigate.

Best view: Climb up Bluff Hill for views across Ahuriri and up to Cape Kidnappers. This takes about 25 minutes or, if you're feeling lazy, you can drive.

Best swim: The sea of course, the open ocean or Pandora Pond. It's divine round here for paddling, sailing, SUPing and, from mid-October, vast inflatable toys will be installed in Pandora Pond courtesy of the nice people at Napier City Council.

Artwork by Carly Yealey at West Quay. Photo / NZME.
Artwork by Carly Yealey at West Quay. Photo / NZME.

Hang ten: In the right conditions, you can enjoy a surf right out front.

Best museum: The Old Customhouse is packed to the gunwales with maritime memorabilia as well as some evocative historic photos.

Cultural outings: Climb aboard a traditional Polynesian waka and enjoy a breathtaking voyage with Waka Experience. Hop on a Hooters tour in a vintage car and be educated and entertained in style. Or book yourself on to a guided heritage walk to uncover the secrets of Ahuriri's rich past.

Nice arts: A handful of places show and sell objets d'art, notably Red Peach and Quay galleries.

Pretty as a picture: Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is a fantastic art project that's been spearheaded by artist Cinzah Merkens — a defector from Auckland. There are 29 magnificent murals across Napier, and 19 of them can be found in and around Ahuriri with the vast pictures depicting aspects of the ocean in all its glory. Download the interpretive map at napier.govt.nz.

Top shops: Baz*ar The Empire sells gorgeous jewels, boots, handbags and clothes. The sheepskin factory is a hit with tourists and locals. Whale's Tail Gallery bursts with charming antiques. Aroha and Friends is perfect if you're after clothing or art.

Cream of the coffee: Crazy Good is a hole-in-the-wall nook where the coffee, bread and pastries are hard to beat.

Baked goods: The Picnic. Everything they make is sublime, from bread to biscotti, cakes to hand-crafted chocolates.

Best food: There is so much good eating in this vital village but, to name a handful, take your tastebuds to Vetro (the local deli), Milk and Honey, F.G. Smith or the newly established Hatch for dumplings. Yum.

Al fresco fare: Stop in at Hawkes Bay Seafoods for the freshest fish and chips — perfect day or night and especially idyllic at sunset.

Moving pictures: The Globe Theatrette is a boutique cinema showing all the best movies.

Wet your whistle: Anywhere along Ahuriri's waterfront is good for a drink. Mexi Mama is muy bueno for cocktails and Mexican cuisine, plus there are lots of pubby-type pubs, so simply walk along West Quay and, if you can't find a drink, you don't deserve one.

Kids love fishing from the wharf. Photo / NZME.
Kids love fishing from the wharf. Photo / NZME.

Rest your head: Ahuriri is chocka with sweet hotels. The Crown is a gorgeous old building with a flash new wing. East Pier is an endearing little place on the beachside plus there are plenty of B&Bs and AirBnBs too.

Best mountain biking: An 8km section of cycleway passes through Ahuriri, and makes up part of Nga Haerenga — the New Zealand Cycle Trail. In fact, all of Napier is cyclist friendly with miles of cycle paths to explore.

But wait there's more: Inflatable World on Thames St is always a blast. Or tack on down to Napier's sailing club, one of the oldest in the country.

Wildlife: The rocky shore and estuary teem with sea life and the ocean occasionally plays host to dolphins and whales.

Channelling your mum: Pack a windbreaker because it can blow pretty fiercely sometimes.

The verdict: One of the grooviest seaside villages in the universe.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 10 Dec 2016 06:57:07 Processing Time: 2163ms