Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A small New Zealand town turns tragedy into architectural triumph


Napier is proud of its art deco design and buildings dating back to the 1930s after a 1931 earthquake leveled Napier.

Napier goes all out for holidays and festivals.

WHEN YOU first set eyes on the mid-sized town of Napier, New Zealand, you get a large feeling that "vintage" is in style all year.
You expect to see Gatsby stroll by, in a dapper suit, with a charleston girl at his side. A classic Packard turns the corner and its driver is dressed in vintage attire.
When the town's 1931 earthquake destroyed much of the city -- 7.8 on the Richer scale -- an enterprising city father supervised a rebuilding effort in quick time.
Napier is tucked neatly into lovely Hawkes Bay.  Behind the greenery
is a beautifully preserved town built in the art deco style of the 1930s. 
HE EMPLOYED the fashionable architecture of the day -- Spanish Mission and Prairie -- and drew inspiration from the popular Art Deco trend, too.   The "deco" style is characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors, and that carries through in Napier's art-deco designed private homes, and big businesses such as the National Tobacco Company and Masonic Hotel.  The newspaper and a theater are "deco," too -- the Daily Telegraph, and the Municipal Theatre. 
DURING THE year, thousands of visitors revel in the 1930s atmosphere created in the heart of the city and spreading out to homes in the suburbs.  Thousands more make the city of 61,100 swell during an annual Art Deco festival in February.

Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett dazzle at Planet Hollywood, click here

WE LOVED the glitz and glamour of the musicians who greeted our ship, arriving in vintage autos and matching attire to play songs from the 1930s.
Napier is located in Hawke's Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island.
 It calls itself "the Art Deco Capital of the World" and makes clever use of that moniker, promoting its annual festival with 200 events including outdoor concerts, vintage car parades, fashions shows, steam train rides, "Great Gatsby" picnics and more. This year's fest attracted 40,000 people worldwide.
Businesses in Napier, above, and nearby Hastings have
their art deco style of architecture preserved by government.
During the fest, event attendees don period clothing, drive vintage cars, sip champagne, picnic in elaborate style, attend elegant soiree's and stroll the architecturally distinct streets that make Napier unique. The popular Masonic Hotel suggests the colors of the day, with its deco lavender, pink and soft green.
Vintage autos and vintage dress greet ship passengers.

The festival was a two-day event in 1989 but has grown to a week-long extravaganza celebrating an era of sophistication and reflective of the "can do" spirit that rebuilt and improved the town nearly 84 years ago.

The Taieri Gorge train ride is one of New Zealand's most famous trips.
NEXT UP: We've promised a train story Down Under and so we finally deliver.
We cross Australia's vast expanses in a couple different fun and efficient trains, then take a gorgeous trip through New Zealand's Taieri Gorge.  All aboard! Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Wednesdays at:

1 comment:

  1. I lived in New Zealand for 11 years and Napier was always a place we took visiting family from England and the Americas. This revived memories of a special place with spirited people who know how to show off their town.