Napier │ New Zealand’s 1930s Art Decor City
Napier is a seaside city on the Northern Island of New Zealand. It is located in Hawke’s Bay. Roughly 18 km south of Napier is the in-land city of Hastings. These two neighbouring cities are often called “The Twin Cities” of New Zealand. We made a stop in Napier on our way from Rotorua to Wellington.
Since the google maps said that the journey between these two cities would take about 5-6 hours, we knew that it would closer to seven hours. When it came to drive-times in New Zealand, google maps was way too optimistic! Not a single journey took what it was supposed to that, even when we didn’t stop to take photos and stretch our legs. To break up our drive, we decided to spend a few hours in Napier. We were pleasantly surprised by what we found in these 1930’s style Art deco city!
Napier is a popular tourist city, with a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was demolished in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Thousands of people flock to Napier every February for the Tremains Art Deco Weekend event, a celebration of its Art Deco heritage and history.
It also has one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country, a statue on Marine Parade called Pania of the Reef. Pania was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. By daylight she swam about with creatures of her reef world but after sunset would go to a stream that ran into the bay where the city of Napier now exists.
Marine Parade Viewing Platform
The Sound of the Stones
While we were here, I took a little walk along the beach. I noticed that the stones made an interesting sound as they run in and out with the tide. It as really quite intriguing, and if I lived here, I would no doubt, we out there on the shore… listening to that sound everyday!
We walked along the high street, admiring the Art Deco style that surrounded us. It truly felt like we had been transported back to the 1930s! What a unique sight – especially in the middle of a New Zealand road trip.
Four Hours in Napier
We had about four hours in Napier. A large chunk of that time was spent in a post office, trying to exchange renminbi to New Zealand dollars. A friend had given us a huge stash of cash to deposit for them. We were nervous traveling with it, but we were having a tough time finding a place to exchange the money. Most of our journey, so far, had no revolved around any big cities.
As soon as we arrived in Napier, we were able to have a picnic along the coast, and then a nice walk along the high street. When we saw the post office and the banks, we thought that we should use the opportunity to try sort out the money. Time got away from us though, and before we knew it, it was time to hit the road!
Annual Art Deco Celebrations
Napier is often referred to as the ‘Art Deco Capital of the World’ and continues to amaze visitors with its unique Art Deco buildings. There are walks and tours, shopping and events. Visitors come from all corners of the earth to see, feel, and experience this unique collection of heritage buildings and participate in the Art Deco celebrations.
You too can feel the atmosphere, live the era of mystique, if only for a few days. Every year there is an Art Deco Festival in Napier. Check out this website for more info. The Art Deco celebrations are a major attraction in New Zealand and right across the world. They are definitely a must see and do when visiting our lovely city and the Hawke’s Bay region.
Back on the Road
Our next stop was the most southern city on the North Island: Wellington.