Starting at the Ocean Spa pool complex, cross Marine Parade and take the Seaview Terrace steps. Turn right at Brewster Street where a ramp zigzags up the slope to Clyde Road. Here, continue uphill onto Gladstone Road. The road has a left-hand dogleg and at the end of this, take the steps to the right. Turn right onto Coote Road and then continue up Thompson Road. Keeping the water tower and storage tanks to your left, turn right into Lighthouse Road. The entrance to Sturm's Gully Reserve, well signposted, is just before the road does a tight U-turn. (You will have gone too far if you see the bowling club on the right but the road nonetheless takes you to the Bluff Hill summit.)
A short distance into Sturm's Gully, steps and a path on the right go up the hill and you will emerge at the Bluff Hill Lookout. Offering spectacular outlooks over Hawke Bay and the port of Napier, this viewing area was constructed over the top of a World War II coastal defence gun emplacement.
Walk back down to Sturm's Gully, turning right when the path levels off. The reserve exits at Hornsey Road which continues down to the port. Turn right onto Breakwater Road, following it back to the walk's starting point.
This coastal strip, lined with drawcard attractions and visitor accommodations, is another of the city's playgrounds.
From the Seamen's Welfare Centre, the wide concrete path sweeps past the surf life saving clubrooms, meanders along a grassed and treed strip and then heads towards the National Aquarium.
This foreshore reserve, like the Marine Parade public gardens reserve, is a comparatively recent geological addition to the coastline.
Part was reclaimed after the 1931 earthquake when rubble was deposited from the devastated inner city.
For those who want to see the city's sights, there are ample excuses for moving off the Pathway. Attractions include the Floral Clock, the Marine Parade Gardens, the Tom Parker Fountain, Napier's iconic Pania of the Reef sculpture, the Sound Shell and Colonnade, Par 2 golf, the Sunken Garden, an outdoor skating rink and finally, the National Aquarium itself.
This walk tests fitness levels and its many twists and turns provide an interesting take on one of the city's most well-established residential areas. Remember to take the map and instructions with you.
Little land was available for settlement in Napier until the 1931 earthquake uplifted and drained out much of the Ahuriri Lagoon. So, since the early days of European occupation, the Hill has provided for an eclectic mix of housing that ranges from modest worker cottages to grand colonial homes.
Cross to the hill side of Marine Parade at the Ocean Spa Pool complex, and walk up the Seaview Terrace steps, turning left into Brewster Street. Cross the street when you emerge onto Shakespeare Road and head uphill. A path to the left of the road crosses a grassed triangle, leading to the Madeira Steps.
At the top of this steep climb, turn right into Cameron Road and right again into Holt Place (this resembles a lane) to reach Sealey Road.
Turn right here and follow the road downhill to the intersection, then head uphill into Fitzroy Road. Reaching a roundabout, locate the steps down to Shakespeare Road, turning right at the bottom. At the next intersection, marked by several shops, turn left up France Road and onto the ramp between that and Convent Road. This will lead you onto Cobden Road. Turn right into Cobden and continue to the water tower and storage tanks, turning left into Thompson Road.
Follow this to the T intersection, turn right and at the dead-end, take the steps down to Seapoint Road, where you turn left. It's a steep drop from there down Karaka Road to the Bluff Hill Reserve - Hornsey Road will now be on your left. Take the steps if you are energetic. A path and steps also lead up to the Bluff Hill summit, 105 metres above sea level.
Enjoy the views over the port and from the lookout before taking the path that is parallel to and below the road approach onto the reserve. The path approach can be difficult to spot, but it is marked by a wooden post. It will take you down to Sturm's Gully, named after an early Austrian-born horticulturist who established a plant nursery here. Walk up the tree-flanked gully to Lighthouse Road, turning right, and then left into Priestley Terrace.
A short distance down this road and to the right is a ramp, also hard to spot. It emerges onto Priestley Road. At its T intersection, turn left onto Coote Road. This takes you past Centennial Gardens (worth a wander) back to the walk's starting point.
It is easy to keep your bearings on this route because it circumnavigates the limestone landmark of Napier Hill. This geological feature was more generally known as Scinde Island before the 1931 earthquake wrenched up the sea floor, draining surrounding wetland to the east and south of the hill.
Starting at the Ocean Spa pool complex, head south through the Marine Parade Gardens, turning right over the pedestrian crossing into Tennyson Street. Continue into Carlyle Street and then Hyderabad Road, detouring into Corunna Bay - so called because before the earthquake this area formed part of the inner harbour.
Back in Hyderabad Road, turn right into Battery Road and skirt around Ahuriri Reserve, still affectionately referred to as South Pond because before the earthquake it was under water. Continue on Battery Road past the former tram shelter with its early 20th Century themed murals painted by Napier artist Brenda Morrell.
At the end of Battery Road, cross over to the Rotary Pathway on Breakwater Road. Turning right takes you between the Bluff and the port. A start was made on the breakwater for a deepwater harbour in 1886, but arguments raged for decades between those supporting an inner harbour and those wanting an outer harbour development. It was finally settled by the earthquake, which made the inner harbour too shallow for merchant shipping.
Follow the coastal pathway, which will return you to Ocean Spa.
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