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2km from Napier CBD Kennedy Park Top 10 top camp spot for World Rugby fans

May 25, 2011
2km from Napier CBD Kennedy Park Top 10 top camp spot for World Rugby fans

By Lee Slater and Sarah Bennett courtesy of HAPNZ

At the 2010 New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards,Napiers Kennedy Park Top 10 Resort took out the gong for the nations best holiday park. Considering the high quality of holiday parks across New Zealand this is no mean feat, so we set off to Hawkes Bay to see what all the fuss is about.

This is reasonably priced accommodation. Peak season, tent-power sites cost about (May-June) $41 per night.

For a proper roof over your head, prices for two people, depending on season, range around $83 to $90 for a standard cabin (weekday-weekend, sleeps up to seven) through to $205-214 for the fully-equipped, still sparkling two-bedroom villas (weekday-weekend, sleeps up to six). Current rate (May 26 to June 2) $141.

Off-season you can expect special rates and some promotions and family packages, but during the Rugby World Cup in September prices will rise.

Editor's Note: Child prices are for children aged 3-14 years inclusive. Prices are reviewed yearly. Prices may change from July 1. Check before booking.

Napier in the Hawke's Bay region will host two international rugby teams during Rugby World Cup 2011 in September. On Sunday, September 18 France will play Canada and on Tuesday, September 27 Canada meets Japan in Pool A matches of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

McLean Park in Napier is one of the smaller venues to host games at the 2011 Rugby World Cup but nonetheless it is still an excellent stadium with a capacity of 22,000 for the tournament.

Our weekend break got off to a great start when we left Wellington and the clouds parted, and by the time we got to the Bay it was baking hot and blue sky all over. Arriving in Napier and pulling up at the holiday park gates, Kennedy Park Top 10 basked in the rosy glow of late afternoon sun.

Less than two kilometres from the centre of Napier, Kennedy Park started life as a municipal camping ground, established in 1937. It has remained publicly owned ever since. Nearly 75 years on, the park has matured into a graceful but modern complex, spread over seven acres and holding almost 1600 people at full capacity.

A small village of cabins and communal buildings sits close to the entrance, but beyond this the park opens up into green and spacious park-style grounds, enhanced by a wealth of facilities. Max greets us at reception.

He exhibits the well-honed professionalism of a busy man at a busy desk, but hes also friendly and funny. Briefing us on the facilities and directing us to our pitch on the map, he points out the playground: Here is the Jumping Pillow, he says. A bounce is compulsory.

Still giggling over that one, we steer our campervan towards the camping area. (We are driving our newly converted Toyota Hiace, and this is to be our first night in it.) Passing a traffic sign that instructs us to HAVE FUN RELAX, we fall in behind a pedal cart zooming ahead of us. The kids are certainly having fun, and Dad seems pretty relaxed despite having to pedal for four!

About a third of Kennedy Parks seven hectares is set aside for tents and campervans, with 92 powered and 78 non-powered sites. Its an appealing camping area, carpeted in lush grass and studded with exotic trees theres plenty of shade, some privacy amongst the shrubbery, and picnic benches for the quick. We hook-up in Shady Lane, and mosey off to explore the rest of the park.

Besides the collection of wonderful old trees, one of the first things we notice is how tidy everything is. The lawns are mown and flowerbeds weeded. All the buildings are ship-shape, including the cute, old cabins built way back in the 1950s.

The barbecue area is as clean as a whistle and boasts four easy-care hobs that shine the obvious aplpication on lots of elbow grease. The communal facilities kitchen, bathrooms,lounges and games room are spotless. Along the driveways and paths, not a skerrick of litter or a cigarette butt to be seen.

There are obviously some eagle eyes on staff. Kiri, who shows us around, tells us the park employs more than 50 people in high season, of which three are full-time ground staff. They have to keep the bar raised, because right next door is the excellent Kennedy Park Rose Garden, run by the Napier City Council. Just pop through the gate, and boom. An ocean of blooms. Five thousand bushes, five hundred varieties in all. What a wonderful bonus for the parks guests.

Jumping Pillow - a bounce compulsory. (Bennett  and Slater)
Jumping Pillow - a bounce compulsory. (Bennett and Slater)

The feel-good factor continues in a shade of green, with environmental sustainability a top priority. In 2009 it was awarded the Westpac Chamber of Commerce Business Award for Excellence in Sustainable Business, and also holds a Qualmark Enviro-Gold rating.

The holiday park is also involved with local community projects such as sports team sponsorship and environmental restoration, and because its owned by the council, profits end up going back into the community.

The playground lies at the heart of the park, with climbing frames, slides, swings and the famous Jumping Pillow, of course. A swimming pool and petanque court lie alongside, although the latter will shortly make way for a brand new pool.

In the same area, Storkeys Restaurant Bar is open from 6pm daily in high season. There are certainly plenty of amenities, all close to the accommodation. This gives the park its resort feel you could park up for a week and hardly need to leave the grounds.

Kennedy Park Top 10 Resort was relatively quiet when we visited in early December, but things must hum along when the rooms fill up. There are 91 units in all, including studio motels, two-bedroom villas, one-bedroom holiday units, ensuites and cabins. Considering the number of buildings and the mixture of architectural styles, the park feels both cohesive and easy on the eye.

Toyota Hiace campervan. (Bennett and Slater).
Toyota Hiace campervan. (Bennett and Slater).

The new kitchen cabins were completed in 2009, although our personal favourites were the charming 1970s motel units with their concrete and breezeblock, attended by geranium and lavender.

An imposing two-storey arc of holiday units, built in 1980s, stands surprisingly handsome on its manicured lawn overlooking a magnolia and a mighty fig tree. Kennedy Park has the feel of a small village, with the various accommodation options attracting all sorts of people from backpackers in pup tents, through to family and sports groups.

We even spied a suited gentleman scurrying from his motel room, no doubt heading to business in town. Over 100,000 people stayed at the holiday park last year; there is something for everyone here.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable stay at Kennedy Park Top 10 Resort. It was impressive across the board from the enthusiasm at reception and the personal service overall, to the quality of accommodation and its value for money, to the cleanliness, the ground-keeping, the facilities for children and the space to relax.

It looks like a complex that has been built up gradually with a focussed vision of rest and relaxation, respect for the environment, whilst still fostering fun and good times. A deserved winner, we say. Kennedy Park Top 10 Resort, Storkey Street, Napier.

Rugby World Cup : Canada has appeared at all Rugby World Cup Tournaments since 1987. Their best result was reaching the quarter-finals in 1991, where they lost to New Zealand 13-29.

Canada will play Tonga on September 14 at the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei. They then take on France at Napier's McLean Park on September 18, then Japan on September 27 again in Napier. In their final pool match, they will face Rugby World Cup 2011 hosts New Zealand on October 2 at Wellington Regional Stadium.

Charming  motel units. (Bennett and Slater).
Charming motel units. (Bennett and Slater).
Kennedy Park Rose Garden an ocean of blooms. (Bennett and Slater).
Kennedy Park Rose Garden an ocean of blooms. (Bennett and Slater).

Napier, New Zealand's Art Deco City, sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. It is situated in the centre of Hawke's Bay just 18 km from its sister city Hastings. It has a population of about 60,000 and is 332 km north east of the NZ capital Wellington.

In 1931 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed 256 (the figures varies according to source) people and changed Napier forever. Napier rebuilt in a grand style. The latest look of the 1930's came to life with Art Deco the design flavour.

Palm trees and Norfolk pines underline the ambience of stripped classical and Spanish Mission buildings.

Art Deco Trust in step with Rugby World Cup

Every February, Napier hosts an Art Deco Weekend, featuring a vintage car cruise, jazz bands, a bi-plane swoop, balls, dinners, exhibitions and entertainment with a 1930s theme. Dates for Art Deco Weekend 2012 are Feb. 14 to 19.
Numerous events will be held during the Rugby World Cup.

For 2011 the Art DecoTrust has moved Bluewater Hotel Deco Decanted Weekend to amalgamate with the Rugby World Cup Events the Trust is holding between mid Sept - mid Oct. More details regarding the dates and events will be available soon on

Art Deco Trust Walks and Tours in Napier run several types of tours and an art deco shop.
Art Deco originated in Europe in the early years of the 20th Century, and its heyday was from 1920 to 1940. It became widely known following the great Exposition des Arts Modernes Decoratifs et Industriels, held in Paris in 1925 and from which its name was ultimately derived.

Hawke's Bay is considered one of New Zealand's leading food and wine destinations. With its Mediterranean climate visitors come to the area to sample vintages from more than 70 wineries, fresh produce at the Farmers Markets, epicurean delights and gourmet experiences at a great variety of restaurants, cafes and bars.

National Aquarium of New Zealand, Te Whare Tangaroa O Aotearoa
New Zealand's largest display of aquatic life and unique New Zealand wildlife, including sharks, stingrays, living coral, kiwi, tuatara and a huge range of fish species can be seen at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

It is a fun and educational place to visit for all the family. Open 9am-5pm every day of the week (except Christmas Day).
Located in Napier, the National Aquarium is one of the premier Hawke's Bay Tourist Attractions.

The National Aquarium, on Napiers foreshore, stretches like a huge stingray on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It is designed to be a centre of education, entertainment and cultural experience. No part of New Zealand is more than 130 kilometers from the sea, making marine education and curiosity natural amongst New Zealand's four million population.
Thousands of strange and wonderful creatures live in the National Aquarium of New Zealand.The National Aquarium of New Zealand is involved in many conservation programs, both national and international.

Some are historic while others have only come online since the Aquarium was opened early in 2002. National Aquarium visitors see many rare species. Swim with the sharks in Napier it is the only place in New Zealand where this experience is available. It is not necessary to be a qualified diver and the activity is fully supervised.

At 10am everyday at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in the Pania Reef tank Daring Dan the diver takes to the water in a feeding frenzy with his fishy friends.The National Aquarium of New Zealand is in Marine Parade Napier only 10 minutes walk from Napier CBD.

Napier and Hawks Bay attractions and things to see and do while staying include:
Hot Air Balloon rides

Helicopter scenic flights


Cycling and Tramping

Napier Aquatic Centre

Art Deco Walks Tours

The Faraday Centre - learn about technology of everyday items

Napier Municipal Theatre

National Aquarium of New Zealand

Ocean Spa- Napiers premier heated pools and health and fitness complex

Par2 MiniGolf

Winery Tours

Gannet Beach Adventures

Dive Centre Napier

Hawkes Bay Farmyard Zoo

Wool World at Clifton Station

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course,

Te Mata Peak for stunning views

Ocean Beach Wildlife Reserve

Fabulous beaches

Photographers Paradise!

Editors Note: GoSee thanks Fergus Brown CEO of Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand (HAPNZ) for providing the basis of this free Information Article for the benefit of GoSeers.