Napier is the Art Deco Capital of the world and is one of the most photographed cities in New Zealand.
After the devastating earthquake in 1931, Napier was rebuild in the Art Deco style of architecture, with many of the buildings incorporating Maori culture in their features and motifs. This unique style, which is reflected in the buildings of local architect Louis Hay, reflects the strong influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Chicago School of Architecture.
Nowhere else in the world are you able to see such a concentration and variety of different styles of Art Deco buildings. Some of the best examples and most photographed include National Tobacco Company in Ahuriri, the old Napier Fire Brigade and the Daily Telegraph Buildings both in Tennyson St, and residential homes in the suburb of Marewa. McDonald's Mc Deco restaurant in Taradale is one of only two Art Deco McDonald's in the world.
Each year in February, Napier celebrates Art Deco weekend, a major Hawke's Bay event, which celebrates the architecture which arose out of the massive earthquake in 1931 as well as the 1930's lifestyle. This weekend brings thousands of people to the region for over 40 events in the lead up to and over the weekend, with most people dressed in their finest 1930's garb, and with over 350/400 vintage cars. A very spectacular weekend.
Art Deco festivities are not confined just to summer, with the newly launched DIY Deco weekend in July proving very popular.
As well as locals and visitors, Bertie Napier's Art Deco ambassador, can be spotted wearing Art Deco garb at any time throughout the year, often popping up during Art Deco Trust guided walks, or when cruise ships are in port.
There are a wide range of options available to learn more about Napier's Art Deco history ranging from grabbing one of the many Art Deco Tour booklets and exploring the sights at your own pace. Many tour operators offer Art Deco tours each day, ranging from walking, escorted and vintage car tours. Scenic Tours provide the option of taking you through downtown Napier and its surrounding suburbs, as well as taking in the scenic highlights of Hastings and Havelock North.
The Art Deco Trust conducts informative Art Deco walking tours of the central city daily, with morning tours leaving the Napier i-SITE on Marine Parade at 10am and afternoon tours leaving the Trust's Art Deco shop in Tennyson Street at 2pm.
Whether it is indoor or alfresco dining you want, the Mission Estate Restaurant and the cluster of restaurants and bars along Marine Parade and West Quay with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, serve some of the regions best food and wine.
Napier is home to:
Napier dubbed the Art Deco capital of the world. A walk through Napier's streets is a must do as it tells the stories surrounding the rebuild of the city in the early 1930's following a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The buildings reflect the architectural style of the time – stripped classical, spanish mission, and art deco including unique Maori motifs and design elements.
Take a walk along Napier's picturesque waterfront and the sunken gardens. Get up early and watch the sunrise – the first coast in the world to see the sun every morning!
Pania of the Reef
The famous bronze statute on Napier's Marine Parade is rumoured to have enchanting qualities. As the legend is told, Pania left her sea family, and bewitched Karitoki, the son of a Maori chief by casting a spell with her beauty. When Karitoki was away in battle she was called back to her family under the sea. When she tried to return to land, the Maori Lord of the Sea, angered by her willingness to leave her family again, turned her into a rocky shelf – Pania Reef. So if you need luck with love, try gently touching Pania's hand and asking for divine intervention.
Napier Botanical Gardens
Take a relaxing wander through the multitude of pathways exploring Napier's botanical gardens established in 1855.
8.00am to 12 noon every Saturday morning in Clive Square. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a traditional village market where you can talk to the grower or producer and taste some of their produce ranging from hand made cheeses, breads and ice cream to seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables and gourmet meat.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, offering spectacular expansive views over Napier, Hawke's Bay and the Port of Napier. This viewing area was constructed over the top of a World War II coastal defence gun emplacement. The circuitous route through gardens to the top makes a pleasant wander, and is a nice spot for a picnic.
Ahuriri and Perfume Point
Take a walk along the expansive boardwalk along the Ahuriri waterfront with its numerous café's and restaurants. A perfect spot to watch the yachts and boats entering and leaving the marina, and ships and luxury cruiseliners from the Harbour.
This popular easy walking track and boardwalk stretches out across the water providing good viewing of wading birds, mud dwellers and aquatic life.
Get off the beaten track with more than 130kms of cycleways you can see everything from mountainous lookouts and beautiful lowland rivers to endangered wetland wildlife and sweeping coastlines. Download a cycleway map.
A short distance from Napier you'll discover:
Eskdale Mountain Bike Park
New Zealand is one of the greatest places in the world for mountain biking and people travel from all over to ride our turf. Just 20 minutes drive north of Napier is one of New Zealands largest and very highly regarded Mountain Bike Parks. Set within the privately owned Pan Pac Tangoio Forest is the Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Clubs main purpose built mountain bike park. An elevation of 290m at the highest peak allows tremendous views across the Bay and plenty of scope for a huge variety of trails, currently with over 80kms of purpose built cross country, freeride and downhill trails, plus approx 25km of forestry roads and 4x4 tracks to cater for all levels of rider ability – from novice beginner through to the experienced professional. Download a trail map.
40 minutes from Napier provides an amazing North Island rafting experience. The Mohaka River boasts some of New Zealands most beautiful and stunning scenery. From scenic half day, grade 2 raft and duckie (inflatable kayak) trips down the Mohaka River valley to a Grade 3 adventure that will challenge you with some thrilling rapids. Come jump off a cliff, experience the Mohaka gorge and swim a rapid or two in this full day river adventure. Experience the thrill of a grade 4/5 adventure negotiating past house size boulders, getting propelled through narrow shoots and while you try to catch your breath, try to appreciate the awe inspiring scenery. Truly incredible and well worth raising the adrenalin levels in hard core white water for. Highly recommended!
30 minutes north of Napier off SH 2 is a popular summer holiday destination with a golden sandy safe swimming beach. A great place to relax with a variety of beach and bush walks.
One of Hawke's Bay's best kept secrets with a range of gentle to hard walks, with it's natural surroundings and wildlife creating a photographers paradise. A great place to go for peace and quiet.
Te Ana Falls
Just 27km north of Napier on SH2 is the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve, a delightful picnic spot and an easy walk through native bush to the 10m high falls and picturesque plunge pool.
Shine Falls and Boundary Creek Scenic Reserve
A reward for going off the beaten path, a pleasant 45 minute walk from the carpark amongst sheep in a large grassy area backed by windswept cliffs and through native bush takes you to the 58 metre Shine Falls - Hawke's Bay's highest waterfall. Well worth it!