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Napier New Zealand Tourist Information: Art Deco City

Updated on April 27, 2019
Stripped Classical Style building with Maori Motifs, ASB Bank building, Napier, New Zealand.
Stripped Classical Style building with Maori Motifs, ASB Bank building, Napier, New Zealand. | Source
Ceiling detail with Maori Motifs, ASB Bank building, Napier, New Zealand.
Ceiling detail with Maori Motifs, ASB Bank building, Napier, New Zealand. | Source
Spanish Mission Style building, The Provincial Hotel, Napier, New Zealand.
Spanish Mission Style building, The Provincial Hotel, Napier, New Zealand. | Source

Art Deco City of New Zealand

Napier is located by the sea in the Hawke's Bay region and is dubbed the Art Deco capital of the world. It is situated on the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand and enjoys a warm and dry climate. It enjoys some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand.

Napier was first settled by Europeans in the 1850s but was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 3 February 1931. The uniqueness of Napier lies in the fact that its business district that was rebuilt after the earthquake reflect the architectural styles of the time such as the stripped classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. Napier's Art Deco uniquely features Maori motifs and design elements not found anywhere else in the world. While having a predominance of Art Deco styled buildings, Napier is in fact a catalogue of all the styles fashionable in the 1930s. There are a few examples of the International Style built before the Second World War. It also has buildings built in the Prairie Style and the Chicago School from the Mid-west United States. These buildings built in different styles give Napier an architectural richness that is unexpected in a small town.

A guided Art Deco walk through Napier's streets is very interesting and a must do for any visitor. The annual Art Deco Festival weekend held every February is a famous event drawing visitors from all over the world.

Napier, New Zealand

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Hastings, New Zealand

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Activities In and Around Napier

Hawke's Bay is a year round events destination. From events showcasing Art Deco heritage to food and wine festivals, open-air winery concerts, sports competitions and agricultural shows – visitors can find something of interest for everyone.

Art Deco Walk, Events and Shopping

The walking tours of the city centre provided by the Art Deco Trust are almost as famous as the architecture. They are led by volunteers who are totally passionate about the city and tell the story of its rebirth with in-depth knowledge and interesting anecdotes. The Art Deco Trust was formed in the 1980s to help the world appreciate this heritage treasure which developed in the midst of the 'Great Depression' giving Napier the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the southern hemisphere.

Thousands of people from around the world enjoy the Art Deco walking tours every year and many more are attracted by another of the Trust's events, the annual Geon Art Deco Weekend. Held in February, it blends dressing up, dining, dancing, parades, vintage cars and more including many free events as well.

Some of the renowned Art Deco buildings are all within walking distance in the business centre and the Marine Parade lined with Norfolk Island pines.

Tennyson Street, Napier has to two significant claims to attention – a predominance of Art Deco heritage buildings and retailers who specialize in quality and service with exceptional stores. There are many good cafes and restaurants with opportunities for fine dining.

Cycling Trails around the Bay

The Hawke's Bay trails extend over 187 kilometers – meandering along riverbanks, sunshine, stunning scenery and superb cycle trails all the year round. For example the 46km loop the Landscapes Ride, the 36km Wineries ride, Takaro Trails and many others. Hastings and Havelock North are the great bases for cycling tours.

Winery Concerts

Taradale, 10 minutes from Napier is rich in wine heritage, being home to two of Hawke's Bay's oldest wineries, Mission Estate and Church Road. Over 20,000 people are drawn to the Mission Estate winery each year for one of the country's largest winery concerts. Church Road is also a key venue for winery concerts and holds several events over the summer months.

Getting to Napier

Napier is accessible by air, land and sea so getting here is easy. Air New Zealand operates daily flights from Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland and the flights only take around an hour. It is easy to get there by road in an intercity bus or a car as well. It is 320 kilometers northeast of Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.

There are many interesting places to stay in Napier and Hastings. Especially Art Deco buildings that have been preserved and well-maintained.


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