"Napier, Art Deco architecture capital of the world" Top 5 Page for this destination Napier by Kate-Me

Napier Travel Guide: 188 reviews and 484 photos

Some new pages will be shortly added, after our 2nd visit to Napier in November 2009 (not too many new photos, as the weather was a bit grey).

What can I say about Napier?
It's a marvellous city, born from the ashes in the 1930's, so to speak.

On February 3,1931, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale hit central Napier and devastatated its central business district, as well as causing widespread damage in Hastings.

In Napier, the fires which broke out soon after the quake destroyed most of the buildings which had managed to survive the tremors.
162 people in Napier also perished.

By early 1933, in the amazingly short space of time of just 2 years, the town had been rebuilt, making it the world?s newest and most modern city of that time.
The town was faithfully and lovingly rebuilt in 1930?s style art deco, and what makes it even more amazing, is that the re-building took place during the Great Depression.
Nowhere else in the world (apart from nearby Hastings) is there a a town or city built entirely in the styles of the 1930?s.

The town even today still has that well loved and well cared for feeling. The streets are clean and attractive, and people seem to take such pride in their city.

It is perhaps as I heard in one comment from a survivor on video at the Earthquake Museum: that the tragedy and adversity made the town stronger.

You won't notice any brick houses or buildings in Napier, or in the whole region really, and that is directly because of the earthquake risk too (not as I earlier thought, that they just preferred weatherboard houses).
It has been shown that stone and wood are far more able to flex should an earthquake occur, so for safety these are the materials used.

On our first visit, February 2004, we arrived in Napier late in the afternoon on a public holiday, Waitangi Day, were lucky to get the chance to share in the town's festivities, which we only found out about when we went for a 5 min walk from our accommodation which we'd just checked into.

We heard the loud speakers and decided to go in and have a closer look at what was going on. It was a huge celebration day, and Napier had NZ's only fireworks for the event, which we were lucky to catch!

Pania of the reef, from an old Maori sea legend. You can find her statue near the brilliant blue fountain on the waterfront, not far along from the Tourist Info centre. I'll give more about her later, as I've known the legend for years now and have a replica of this statue in my home.

Waitangi Day fireworks, Napier

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stylish, faithful keeping of Art Deco buildings of the 1930's
  • Cons:By the sea but no beach - like asphalt gravel instead
  • In a nutshell:Nice sea views, special buildings and many other things to do and admire
  • Last visit to Napier: Nov 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (48)

Comments (7)

  • marsistanbul's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2008 at 4:20 AM

    Turkish delight,lamb doner and kebap..Holy Trinity:) ...you've 46 tips n still are 4th place?? it is unfair..get-up and go :) respects..

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Jan 11, 2008 at 5:12 PM

    You were the featured member just now, so I decided to see where you had been. What an interesting town!

  • Jan 28, 2007 at 4:11 PM

    I am coming to Napier on Friday and am hoping to find out about my father who was ships doctor on the Northumberland which was standing off the coast on the day of the earthquake. He came ashore and helped operate through the night.

  • Pixiekatten's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2007 at 2:33 PM

    Only new the Hawke's Bay region for the excellent wine that comes from there. Now I feel a bit more enlightened! Great page! :))

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2004 at 6:28 PM

    I am looking sooooo forward to your NEW New Zealand pages ^..^ has become a great page Kate, thanx for sharing

  • NZ_gurl's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2004 at 8:01 PM

    If you can see the german flag on the building, this was a germans home that was high up in society in Napier when the earthquake struck in 1931. He and his wife helped and so this building was rebuilt to remember him. It is now a Thai restaurant.

  • quartinb's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2004 at 4:00 PM

    iŽll stay tuned....


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