New Zealand is famed for thundering waterfalls, rugged mountain ranges and lakes so clear you can see your reflection perfectly, but it also has plenty to offer those looking for an alternative to an adventure holiday. If you have an interest in history, art or architecture, there’s an abundance of towns and cities ripe for discovery. One place not to exclude from your personalised New Zealand holiday plans is Napier. This beautiful town, which is characterised by its unique Art Deco styling, is an idyllic spot to enjoy an architour.
The fascinating history of Napier
You may think that it’s a little unusual to find such striking architecture in such a small pocket of New Zealand. The truth is that Napier’s Art Deco style came about as a result of an unexpected turn of events. In 1931, the town was hit by a massive earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. Many of the existing buildings were damaged either by the impact of the earthquake or the raging flames that ensued. After the debris had been cleared, work to rebuild Napier began, and the rest, they say, is history. New buildings modelled in popular architectural styles of the era popped up shortly after the quake and local architects were given a chance to shine. Most notably, the work of Louis Hay became increasingly visible. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Hay injected elements of Spanish Mission and Art Deco styling combined with Maori influences, which give the town a unique aesthetic.
Visiting Napier is like taking a step back in time. The buildings have stood the test of time and they remain in pristine condition. The best way to discover the town is to amble around on foot, preferably at a leisurely pace. You’ll find maps at the Art Deco Trust. If you’re keen to find out more about the architecture and you have questions, it’s worth looking into taking a guided tour. For fans of 1930’s culture, the annual Napier Art Deco weekend is not to be missed. Taking place in February, this is a chance to celebrate all things Art Deco. Expect to see vintage cars and visitors decked out in 1930’s outfits, as well as live bands playing hits from back in the day. While you’re in Napier, it’s worth checking out the weekend farmer’s market, which sells all kinds of local produce.