On the 3rd of February 1931 a eartquake hit Hawkes Bay, killing hundreds of people and pretty much destroying Napeir. Napier was rebuilt when art deco architecture was at its height, and so now Napier is the self proclaimed as the biggest art deco town in the world, this may well be true.
We stayed just outside the centre (it’s all that was available), but only a 10 minute drive from the CBD. The weather was pretty overcast (despite the weather forecast telling us otherwise) so most of the pictures I took are pretty dull. Annoyingly we went into town on the evening we arrived and it was bright sunshine, but I didn’t take any pictures as we were just having a quick look. The lesson there is if the sun is out, get the shots in!
Our first stop the next day was Bluff Hill lookout. There you get a great view of the bay and it is directly above the modern docks, these were further up the coast, but the 1931 earthquake uplifted the land, and they had to be moved as the ships could no longer get there. We spent a geeky time watching the ships roll in, then we watched them roll away again!
Then on to the town itself. The town centre is very walkable, and very pretty, there are some shabby buildings, but even they looked beautiful in their own way.
We treated ourselves to tea and a cake at the Masonic Hotel (and given Kiwi prices it is a treat), A beautiful dining room with old display cases showing knick knacks from the time of the earthquake, there are even old suitcases and bicycles above the bar…….
It was interesting to note that there were a couple of corporates there. Subway had got into the swing of things and made their shop sign and front in an art deco style, and Starbucks who couldn’t give a monkeys so their shop stuck out like a very ugly thumb.
We finished the day with a walk along the esplanade, which was nearing the end of a regeneration for an art deco festival that was happening 2 weeks later, it was looking very good.
I have put in a couple of pictures of the buildings in, but they don’t do the town justice. The last picture is of the evening sky from our hotel room, it was on a main road, but the sunsets were just fantastic.