Napier in New Zealand is one of the fascinating Art Deco city in the world, due to being rebuilt mainly in the 1930s following a disastrous earthquake in 1931. It is located in Hawke’s Bay on the sunny eastern coast of the North Island.
Napier is firmly low-rise – but you will find beautifully intact 1930s streetscapes and facades, which can inspire a Great Gatsby-esque swagger in everyone.
Here are a few things to do in Napier:
Art Deco Festival – a five-day spectacle in February commemorating the Art Deco era of the 1920s. Dress well and hog at one of the city’s barbecues and parties, watch the soapbox derby, cherish the vintage cars, or visit some of the other 250 events. Book your stay up to a year in advance for the celebration.
Wine and Food tours – Meet like-minded travelers and share a few glasses at Hawke’s Bay’s wines. Taste rare wines and learn of the area’s unusual growing conditions. Cheeseboards are presented on all tours. Take home great memories and tasting wines. Grape Escape. Depart Napier 1 pm, return 5 pm. Visit five local wineries. Tour includes tasting Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and other wines. Some of New Zealand’s most delightful cheeses matched with wine. Walk along the vines and learn about terroir. A winery tour can be organized if requested when booking. Tours start half an hour earlier for those who demand a winery lunch.
Spend a day at the beach – The golden sanded beaches of Ocean Beach and Waimarama are about 30 min south of Napier by car and are lovely retreats in the summer months. These long sandy beaches cater to fishing, surfing, and long walks to check out the natural habitat.
Places to visit in Napier:
National Aquarium of New Zealand
Inside this state-of-the-art complex with its stingray-inspired shelter are terrapins, piranhas, tuatara, eels, kiwi, and many fishes. Snorkellers can swim with sharks, or sign up for a ‘Little Penguin Close Encounter.’ The penguins get a feed at 9.30 am, 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm, sharks at 2 pm, and the reef fish at 10.
National Tobacco Company Building
Around the coast at Ahuriri, the National Tobacco Company Building (1932) is probably the city’s deco masterpiece, mixing art-deco forms with art nouveau’s natural motifs. Roses, bulrushes (raupo), and grapevines frame the beautifully curved entrance. During business hours, pull on the leaf-shaped brass door knockers and enjoy the first two rooms. There’s a wine bar here too.
Otatara Pā Historic Reserve
Memorial posts ( carved pou), wooden palisades, and a sculptural gate help bring this fortified village (pā) site to life. An hour-long loop walk across grassy hills passes a select few archaeological remains but provides terrific views of the neighboring countryside. From the city, head southwest on Taradale Rd and Gloucester St, turn right into Springfield Rd along the river.
Daily Telegraph Building
The Daily Telegraph is Napier’s art-deco show stars, with fountain shapes, great zigzags, and asymmetrically facade. If the front doors are open, walk inside and gaze the painstakingly renovated foyer (it’s a resource management office these days). There’s a folder of unusual old photos to leaf through on the front counter.
Bluff Hill Lookout
The elegant route to the top of Bluff Hill goes up and down like an elevator on speed (best to drive) but compensates brave mountaineers with broad views across the busy port. Bring some fish and chips or a picnic.
Eating Guide to Napier:
Italian cuisine meets the Chinese with Indian Tandoori aroma and seafood- that’s how you define Napier’s food trends.
Napier boasts an array of cafes, restaurants, pubs, and bars for dining out. You can choose Italian, seafood, Thai, Chinese, Indian, good old New Zealand fare, and much more. You will find everything from la carte style, fine dining, pub grub, and even a bit different from taking the kids for burgers and fries. Dine alfresco with friends and families in the Summer or find a sexy fireside table for two in Winter. Many eateries in Ahuriri, Napier, and Taradale offer exciting vistas taking in the sea or harbor views or picturesque outlooks over vines in and around the Art Deco city while you wine dine. Napier chefs pride themselves in using fresh Hawke’s Bay vegetables and fruits, and the seafood doesn’t have far to venture from the harbor.