A day in Art Deco Town

What a beautiful place

Rest day in Napier meant just that, a little walk in the morning, more on it in a second and a movie in the afternoon. The legs should be ready to ride the 8 days that separate me from Auckland even if I know already that one or two of them might be in the rain.

The morning I spent going around the town and taking pictures of the wonderful architecture. I took advantage of the guided tours organised by the Art Deco Trust and that gave me access to all the information I was missing to fully apreciate what I was seeing.

While waiting for the tour to start I could not resist taking another picture of the sea.

The tour started from the iCentre by the sea and after a brief introduction on the terrible earthquake of 1931 we walked around the central part of Napier and got described the best features of the buildings around us.

The bank building incorporates both art deco features and maori traditional motives.
so does the internal ceiling.
detail from the ceiling (Maori mask)
from the decorative capitel more Maori motifs
Masonic building, looking like the front of a car with the top emblem so common in cars of the period.
Does it not remind you of the front of a Jag or a Bentley?

The group was quite good fun, ten people in all but good natured, the guide was good too and very spry, in on eoccasion she had to stop to wait for the laggers.

Guide in white by “A wave in time”
Not all art deco, also some spanish colonial influence in the rebuilding.
The designs continue under the verandas too
with fabulous windows details
speed lines everywhere, the fascination with the mechanical wonder can be seen in the lines of the buildings.
Fountains and star burst


I did not take most of these pictures while the tour was on, I thought it was better just to listen and I knew that, being the tour just one hour, I could come back and do the tour in reverse and take pictures of the things that I liked.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara De La Serna in the iconic image that can be seen on million of T-shirts, also in one of the coffee shop walls in downtown Napier.

the fact that I went back to take the pictures also gave me the opportunity to look at some of the things that were on route but the tour did not incorporate.

The Municipal Theatre.
Whit a nice quote.

The earthquake destroyed most of the town centre and the lagoon that was behind the town also disappeared as the ground rose by 2 metres. What the earthquake did not destroy the fire that in the immediate aftermath ensued finished off.

The whole reconstruction happened in roughly two years hence the number of date plates on the building saying 1932 or 1933.

This road is as it would have been in 1933 at the reopening of the town.
Some businessman were keen to show their origins.
This neoclassical building is one of the few that survived the earthquake, the reinforced concrete construction while a bit out of favour at the time, not fashionable, was its saving grace.
So many details I don’t know where to start.
And proudly Irish-kiwi
The Daily Telegraph was in circulation, in reduced format the day after the earthquake.
the inside of the building have also been conserved exceptionally well.

One of the thing that makes Napier unique is the scale of the construction at a time where in the rest of the world the construction industry was still not coming out of the great depression hybernation.

Notsure this is Art Deco at all but I liked it.
This is the chap that also paid for the fountain in the park. A proud Scot and also not mean with his money.
All hale the thistle.
More Scottish reference in the McIntosh motive.

After the end of the reverse photo trip I continued towards the garden and got intrigued by the variety of the Art Deco activity that goes on. They obviously are making this theme going as far as it possibly can.

And one
And two
To the left
and three

Finally I went to the gardens where the tour had started as I thought there were some very nice features that deserved to be reported on.

Inspirational gate
What a frame for the sky and sea.
Simple but elegant
Very Zen
Long way from home
Pania of the reef, interesting Maori myth.
I thought the fountain was interesting in the daylight, I did not know what was going to happen at night.
Even the street signs are Art Deco

I then went to the hostel and had a very relaxing afternoon in which I watched the last Hobbit movie and did a bit of office management.

Having a meeting set on video conference for 20:30 I went out at around 18:00 to get some food and then I took another stroll around town a the lights were now fully artificial.

You almost feel king of the town when it’s so empty.
Assuming this was for the World Cup, not sure how long it will stay.
Last night I thought they were late Christmas decoration but I now understand they are just part of the general lighting of Napier.

Then I took a few pictures of the fountain as it changes colours with different light and combination of jets.

DSCN2119copy DSCN2120copy DSCN2121copy

I am really glad I spent time in Napier, I’d go as far as saying that it is the town I liked the most in the whole trip so far.

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