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Art Deco Architecture Adventures in Napier

March 16, 2020

With its colourful buildings, Art Deco architecture, and proximity to wonderful wineries Napier is a must visit New Zealand destination. I’ve had is on my must-see list for a while, so when a recent bank holiday weekend coincided with my Birthday week we hired a car for a little break in the Art Deco capital of New Zealand.

the dome against blue sky napier new zealand

Napier sits on the East coast of the North Island, about a 4 hour drive from Wellington. Located in the Hawkes Bay region, the second largest wine region in NZ, it’s the perfect base for a weekend of wine tasting.

The city is probably most famous for its Art Deco architecture. Napier was levelled by an earthquake in 1931, and was later rebuilt in the Art Deco style which was popular at the time. Since the 90s Napier has leaned into this, hard. Their unique buildings have been protected and restored so that today Napier is considered one of the best-preserved Art Deco towns in the world.    

city centre napier sign in front of the dome new zealand

I was pretty instantly smitten with the pastel hued buildings, Art Deco arches, and even signposts written in Broadway font. Napier is an adorable place to wander around, camera in hand.

napier masonic hotel with dome in background napier new zealand

Whilst we weren’t able to get a room there at such short notice, we still dropped by the iconic Masonic Hotel for a delicious brunch. The restaurant and bar is full of antique treasures and feels very Gatsby. Oh, and to give you an idea of how changeable NZ weather is, these two photos were taken an hour apart but the skies could be from different days!

front of the masonic hotel napier new zealand

The pedestrian streets in the heart of the city are palm-tree lined which really adds to the surreal almost Californian feel of the place. I felt like I was wandering through palm springs at some point and I loved the pastels hues and pops of pattern.

1934 label arched art deco window napier new zealand
art deco mint and yellow building facade napier new zealand palm tree foreground
rices building facade napier new zealand yellow art deco building facade
napier art deco city centre new zealand
criterion art deco hotel napier new zealand
briascos buildings orange art deco facade napier new zealand

Napier itself is pretty small, but it makes a great base to explore other places in the region. We enjoyed wandering along the long pebble beach, enjoying the restaurants on the tree-lined Marine Parade and of course sampling local wines.

pink art deco facade napier new zealand
palm trees in front of blue art deco building napier new zealand
napier new zealand art deco building facade with palm tree

One aspect of Napier that I hadn’t anticipated but was right up my street was the abundance of street art. Even some of the murals were Deco themed such as this cute one on the bus terminal.

The highlight of our trip was a wine tasting day with Winery Tours Hawkes Bay. We were picked up on a minibus and taken to fours wineries in the Hawkes Bay region. Our guide Clarence couldn’t have been more helpful, we were given a goody bag that included water and snacks and he even offered to accommodate specific wineries if we’d wanted to. The tour we chose focused on the Havelock North region and we visited Elephant Hill, Askerne, Te Mata Estate and Craggy Range. I’ll do another post about the wine tour soon.

sarah walker yellow feather blog looking over hawkes bay from te mata peak summit

It was the perfect way to get out and see the stunning countryside surrounding Napier. Clarence even drove us up to the top of Te Mata Peak where we were rewarded with stunning views over the region. If you’re looking for a wine tour whilst in Napier or Hastings I would highly recommend them.

GIFTED – All of the image in this post were edited with 123 presets* who kindly gifted me some presets. I now use them for most of my blog and Instagram images and I love how convenient they are. To get a 10% discount of any 123 preset use code FALL10.

Love, Sarah x

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