New Zealand: 7. Art Deco Napier

The next day took us from Rotorua south towards Lake Taupo, the largest lake in North Island, and then south-east to the east coast city of Napier. This was the scene of a huge earthquake in 1931 which destroyed the city. It was then rebuilt in the currently fashionable Art Deco style, with the result that the city probably has the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings anywhere in the world. There was a time around the mid-1980s when some of the buildings were beginning to look a bit tired, and one or two were demolished and replaced by buildings in the 1980s Brutalist style. Then the people of Napier woke up and realised what a treasure they were taking for granted. The Napier Art Deco Trust was established to protect, preserve, restore and promote the city’s very special character.

It was raining, the afternoon we arrived in Napier. But that didn’t stop us enjoying a guided walk around the city centre, led by an enthusiast guide from the Trust. We were shown not only some of the most interesting exteriors, but also a few of the striking and beautiful interior features of some of the buildings. Some of my favourites (mostly forgotten the exact places, sadly…)

Even the manhole covers in the street:

We loved Napier! Also that evening (though it took us a long and rather grumpy walk to find it) we enjoyed our first Indonesian restaurant meal, at Restaurant Indonesia, which claims to be “Currently the ONLY restaurant in New Zealand where you can enjoy ‘Rijsttafel’, the famous Indonesian banquet, where a multitude of cold and warm dishes is directly served to your table and kept warm on small candle powered heaters.” Delicious.

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