As with many places I visit, my decision to go to Napier, New Zealand and my location within Napier for 5 days was determined by the hotel I chose for my stay – EconoLodge Napier, also known as the Westshore Beach Inn.
Napier, New Zealand is a North Island central-east coast town of 50,000 residents spread across several local communities. The separation and local identity of communities in Napier is due in large part to the division of different parts of the city by its natural landscape. Napier’s Bluff Hill rises nearly 100 meters and offers some of the best scenery and scenic views in the region. It also divides the main downtown city of Napier from Port Ahuriri. The seaport harbor of Port Ahuriri is separated from Westshore Beach by the Hawkes Bay sea channel to the harbor port.
The 7.8 Napier earthquake of 1931 created a land uplift onshore with land rising 2-2.5 meters around Port Ahuriri and Westshore Beach. Much of the land surfaces I walked on during daily hikes to downtown Napier was land covered by a large lagoon a century ago. The large inland lagoon beach was hundreds of meters closer to Napier Bluff Hill on the Port Ahuriri side than it is today. Westshore Beach was a slender sand spit before the 1931 quake and the current location of Hawkes Bay Airport/Napier is on land that was underwater before 1931.
View of Port Ahuriri and Westshore from Napier Bluff Hill. Most of the land seen in the photo was under a large inland lagoon before 1931 earthquake.
A Cheap Week in New Zealand
My objective for election week in New Zealand in November 2016 was to travel on a Qantas $238 round trip San Francisco to Auckland ticket I bought in April 2016 and spend a week in the country as inexpensively as possible. Cost-saving measures were desirable due to my two week trip to Europe in December when I will pay for most of my hotel stays. One of the opportunities I saw for New Zealand were a selection of Choice Hotels around the country. Many of these hotels offered low reward night rates in November. My hotel search also considered locations where I could combine a low fare round trip airline ticket from Auckland through JetStar or Air New Zealand.
Napier won out as my New Zealand destination where I could fly round trip for $80 USD and stay at Econolodge Napier for 10,000 points per weeknight and 6,000 points for weekends. While I had never stayed the night in an Econolodge before, as far as I remember, this property received 4.5 circles on TripAdvisor and ranked #23 of 48 Napier hotels on TripAdvisor. That high guest rating intrigued me. Econolodge is generally an economy hotel brand at the bottom end of chain scale hotels and one to avoid.
EconoLodge Napier, New Zealand
Econolodge Napier marks the first time I ever walked from an airport to a hotel that was not attached to the airport.
My check of Google maps showed I could walk from Hawkes Bay Airport to Econolodge Napier in about 20 minutes. My flight was scheduled to arrive at 16:10 and daylight in November lasts until after 8pm.
The set-back to my plan was a text I received in downtown Auckland at 1pm telling me my JetStar flight was canceled and they would provide 5.5 hour bus transportation instead of the one-hour flight. Fortunately I was able to rebook on the 18:30 flight when I arrived at the airport. There were some monstrous storm clouds over land as we crossed 200 miles of New Zealand. The plane appeared to fly away from a straight flight path to avoid them, and a fine one hour flight on a propeller plane. Landed in Hawkes Bay Airport, Napier, collected my bag at 19:45 and walked out the door. Weather was dry with a warm breeze and felt like mid-60s.
The first obstacle I encountered on my walk was New Zealand’s Highway 2, a coastal two lane main artery with a divider barrier on the other side of the highway to a residential street. I had to wait for a break in traffic, hustle across the highway and climb over the meter high wall with my luggage.
Econolodge Napier website says they will pick up guests from airport. I had not arranged that service. I was offered a ride back to the airport at the end of my stay. I declined. Five days of walking an average 10 miles a day around Napier with a daily hike over Bluff Hill had me in a New Zealand pedestrian mode.
Hawkes Bay Airport, Napier, New Zealand Highway 2. Residential road parallels Highway 2 to airport.
California poppies in Westshore. There is even a sidewalk part of the way in front of modest houses beside Highway 2 near the Hawkes Bay airport.
There were probably more than a dozen people in the Econolodge Napier restaurant/pub when I arrived at the hotel.
Econolodge Napier at Westshore Beach is also home of Napier Brewing Company microbrewery. There are all kinds of craft beers on tap from New Zealand and USA.
Econolodge Napier – Westshore Beach Inn with brewing tanks in adjacent room.
King Bed Efficiency Ground Floor
First impression of Econolodge Napier was a happening place for a bar with a dozen or so people drinking and dining. The receptionist asked me if I wanted to order dinner before 9pm closing of the restaurant. She mentioned the brewpub kind of clears out about that time too. There are two restaurants in the hotel with a Filipino dinner restaurant and the Westshore Beach Inn brewpub with burgers and pub food. Prices were comparable to many of the lower priced restaurants I had seen around Napier during my walks.
My next Econolodge surprise was when she escorted me out the back door of the pub to a parking lot and through the entrance of wooden fenced lot with eight lodging pods. There was also a small laundry facility shack with washer and dryer.
My first reaction to the room location was negative. The actual room space is functional, but kind of like pod glamping or somewhat of a trailer park feel rather than a hotel. I stayed five nights and the atypical lodging style grew on me with time. All the other occupants I noticed seemed to be single men business travelers.
My main patio view was looking across to the row of pods in the other photo. That was an immediate turn-off for me.
My room, pod #15 was last pod on the left.
The room itself was perfectly functional with kitchen appliances.
Econolodge Napier Pod#15 Efficency King with a kitchen, including a stove/oven, microwave, full size frig and freezer, coffee maker, sink, dishes, cutlery and pans, soap and sponge.
I cooked prawns, falafel and fried vegetables during my stay. The only thing lacking was a steamer utensil for the stove pot. By the end of five days I finally trained myself to the fact that the left faucet was the cold water spigot. Cold water faucet on the left and hot water on the right appeared to be the norm for New Zealand.
People in New Zealand tend to walk on the left side too. One of my first encounters with a local in New Zealand is when a man refused to move from my line as I was walking up Parnell Rise in Auckland pulling my luggage and we ended up face to face. He stood three feet in front of me saying “Pardon Me”. I had not slept in 30 hours and bitched him out that he could walk around me and my luggage far more easily than I could change direction walking uphill. He said ‘Pardon Me’ again and walked around me. After that encounter I was cognizant of the social norm for people to walk on the left side of the sidewalk, just like the driving norm. I walked on the left most of the time in New Zealand.
Metal chairs were not conducive to sitting for hours writing. I used one of the bed pillows as a seat cushion most of the week. Big TV screen was a bonus feature in the room. I was truly thankful there were no USA channels like CNN to watch during election week. Al Jazeera was the only international channel with English news. That being said, a large part of the programming for New Zealand channels were US shows and at least one-third of all news programming was about the US election campaign and post election news.
During the day it turned out not to be too much of a privacy concern keeping the curtains open with a white sheer. Being in the last pod in the lot meant I mostly saw only the two room cleaning ladies walk by each day and every now and then a single guy staying in one of the two rooms beyond mine walked past my patio door.
The back window kitchen view gave me the sense of being in a neighborhood looking across to residential backyards, kind of like staying in an Airbnb home rental.
Slate tile bathroom walls provided an upscale look and feel to the bathroom.
The good news is the shower pressure was amazing. Bad news is no shower curtain meant water spray covered the entire bathroom including the toilet seat, toilet paper, sink, towels and any clothes in the room.
While my room had no view to say, I did catch sunsets out the kitchen window and Westshore Beach was only five minutes walk from the hotel.
Demographics of the small residential neighborhood of Westshore is considered one of the more affluent areas of Napier, three or four streets isolated along the beach community, consisting mostly of single dwelling houses.
EconoLodge Napier Room Rates
Choice Privileges reward nights were 10,000 points per night Sun-Thu and 6,000 points Fri-Sat. I stayed Monday to Saturday for 46,000 points. There were three room type options available for reward nights.
The difference between the room types seemed to be the amount of kitchen facilities. I remembered New Zealand as an expensive place for dining from my 2005 trip and I thought prices were still pretty high in Napier this trip. My first day I went grocery shopping for $75 NZD and cooked most of my meals for the week. Each day I ate one restaurant meal while out walking around Napier. Those meals averaged about $13 NZD each with no beverages.
- $108 USD: King Bed Suite, Studio, Mini-Fridge, Tea and Coffee in Room, 42 inch TV, Sitting Area – Sofa and/or Chair, Microwave, Ground Floor, Air Conditioning, Free High-Speed Wireless, Drive-Up.
- $109 USD: King Bed Studio, Ground Floor, Kitchenette – Limited Equipment, Microwave, Sofa, 42 inch TV, Tea and Coffee in Room, Air Conditioning, Free High-Speed Wireless, Drive-Up
- $115 USD (159 NZD): King Bed Studio, Full Kitchen, Kitchen, Ground Floor, 42 inch TV, Tea and Coffee in Room, Sofa, Air Conditioning, Free High-Speed Wireless, Drive-Up
I booked the full kitchen room.
In a post-New Zealand analysis I calculated my cost to buy 161,000 Choice Privileges points in 2016 was $5.50 per 1,000 points.
I redeemed 46,000 points for Econolodge Napier for an estimated cost of $253 USD for my 5-night hotel stay.
Room rate after tax for my 5-night stay would have been $796.50 NZD or $579.38 USD. I saved $326 USD on this 5-night hotel stay using Choice Privileges points.
In Summary: This hotel met my needs for 5 nights in Napier. It worked for me since I went to New Zealand primarily to walk around and hang out. I did a lot of walking, since it took about 90 minutes to walk from Econolodge in Westshore through Port Ahuriri and over Bluff Hill to downtown Napier.
Port Ahuriri Beach, Napier, New Zealand
Bus service runs only during daytime hours between Westshore and downtown Napier, about every 30 minutes One-way fare is 3.60 NZD. You really benefit from a car or bike for this hotel location.
Knowing the Napier area as I do now, my lodging preference would be to stay in a B&B on Bluff Hill, the prettiest part of the town to me. There are also several hotels in the downtown Art Deco district. That being said, the Westshore location forced me to walk across Bluff Hill each day and I loved the walk through Port Ahuriri harbor and over Bluff Hill to Napier.
The consolation of returning each day from my long walks was knowing one of the largest selection of craft beers in central New Zealand awaited me at Napier Brewing Co. Westshore Beach Inn at the Econolodge Napier. That feature alone makes me consider Econolodge Napier in the running for coolest Econolodge anywhere.
Perhaps best of all is seven nights in New Zealand staying in Choice Hotels pushed me to 20 nights in 2016. 17 of those hotel nights were reward nights. I now have requalified for Choice Privileges Platinum elite for 2017. The major benefit of Platinum elite is a 75-day advance booking window for reward nights.
Choice Privileges: 20 nights in 2016 earns 2017 Platinum status.
I only have one Choice Hotels night planned for my December trip with a night in Sweden. Most of that trip will be upper upscale Radisson Blu stays.
Loyalty Traveler Travels – November 2016
New Zealand – North Island Auckland and Napier