100. Explore Napier the Art Deco capital of New Zealand
Exploring New Zealand’s vibrant street art, quirky museums, cutting-edge architecture and more is one of the best ways to uncover the stories of the nation: here is No. 96 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Napier/Ahuriri is New Zealand’s Art Deco capital with an annual festival attracting tens of thousands from around the world every year. Truth is, there’s plenty to do in any season if you love to revel in the style and beauty of the era between 1920 and 1940. Why Art Deco and why Napier? In 1931, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Hawke’s Bay region almost flattening the city of Napier. With the rebuild came a flourish of new buildings particularly executed in the Art Deco style.
Today, the east coast township is awash with the iconic sunbursts, skyscraper shapes, geometry and references to ancient cultures associated with the Art Deco movement. You can easily explore the city independently or sign up with the Art Deco Trust to take in the glamour and style of the era by vintage car. Your driver, dressed in the fashions of the time, will happily dole out facts and anecdotes about the city’s most striking buildings including the Napier Municipal Theatre and the National Tobacco Company Building. You’ll even cruise the local suburb of Mārewa (meaning ‘gift from the sea’ in Māori), built on land thrust out of the ocean by the earthquake and now chock-full of homes styled on the look of the 1930s. Contact the trust for guided walks, too, which range in duration from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours and run throughout the day.