Napier in New Zealand is the most consistently Art Deco city in the world, due to being largely rebuilt in the 1930s following a devastating earthquake in 1931. It is in Hawke's Bay, on the sunny east coast of the North Island.


One of Napier's many Art Deco buildings

At 10:47 am on Tuesday, 3 February 1931, Napier and the wider Hawke's Bay was struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. The quake and subsequent fire killed 256 people and destroyed much of the central business district. The demolition rubble was dumped along the eastern foreshore and turned into gardens and a recreational reserve.

After the earthquake, the CBD and other areas were rebuilt in the Art Deco styles prevailing at the time. Today, Napier is billed as "the Art Deco capital of the world", with over 100 Art Deco buildings in the CBD alone, most of which have been restored and heritage-listed.

The earthquake raised the land by several metres. The airport, the low-lying industrial areas of Onekawa and Pandora, and the suburbs of Pirimai and Tamatea were previously an estuary. Some streets still have the names they had when they were on the coastline – streets called a "quay" or a "bay" may be inland now.

The suburb of Taradale, a separate town until 1968, has the region's oldest and most famous wineries, which host concerts during summer.

Get in

By car

Napier lies on State Highway 2, which passes through the centre of Napier just outside the downtown area. State Highway 50 crosses the city from the Port to Taradale before continuing south.

From Taupo and most destinations north, take State Highway 5 (Napier-Taupo Road) east from Taupo. The highway terminates onto State Highway 2 at Eskdale, 14 km north of central Napier. Make sure you check you have at least 150 km worth of fuel before leaving Taupo, as there are no fuel stations en route.

Distances and travel times to Napier (times are non-stop in typical traffic, so allow additional time for breaks and delays on longer trips):

By bus

National bus operators InterCity and provide daily services in and out with connections throughout the North Island. Fares start from just $1 and can be purchased online or via numerous local ticketing agents including the i-SITE information network. Services arrive and depart from 12 Carlyle St, beside Clive Sq.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council runs a public bus service between Hastings and Napier via Taradale every 20 minutes on weekdays, and hourly on Saturdays. Catch the number 12 bus from outside the public library in each city; adult single fares cost $5.40.

By plane

Hawke's Bay Airport is located 6 km north-west of the city centre, off State Highway 2. Air New Zealand Link operates daily flights to Hawke's Bay from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Jetstar also flies from Auckland and other airlines have flights from Blenheim, Gisborne and Wairoa.

Get around


Pania of the Reef



The main shopping areas are along Emerson Street, Dickens Street and in the nearby suburb of Taradale. As well as the usual franchise stores seen across most of New Zealand, a handful of independent stores are in the city centre.



Atmospheric West Quay, beside the beautiful Ahuriri marina, has a strip of bars and restaurants, including:


Accommodation is abundant in Napier and the surrounding area and ranges from luxury to budget; hotels, self-catering apartments, motels and lodges (some with restaurants), homestay; holiday parks and motor camps with self-catering units, budget cabins and campsites. There is also a beachfront youth hostel for backpackers. Families and groups are welcome at most establishments; seasonal and group discounts may apply.

It pays to ring and book in advance for several places due to regional events like Art Deco weekend. Such events are very popular and accommodation can be scarce at these times.

Just north of Napier, past the airport and Bay View, is Esk Valley. This area is now mainly orchard, vineyards and a lavender farm. The area is peaceful but only 10 minutes from the bars and restaurants of Napier. It provides a good place to stay for those who want to experience New Zealand country life or stay on a vineyard. There are numerous accommodation options.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 09, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.