Napier

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your patience while I took a long break from writing. I was hit hard by a double-whammy of sickness (the flu followed immediately by a bad respiratory infection) and then finals. Luckily my finals are over and I am feeling well again so I can start posting!

We left off at my arrival in Napier. Napier is a small town located on the east coast of the North Island in Hawke’s Bay. Napier is super interesting because it is one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. After much of the city was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake and the resulting fires, everything was rebuilt in the popular architectural styles of the time: Striped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. The commercial city center in particular was one of the hardest hit by the earthquake and so almost every building is Art Deco. It transforms parts of the city into a time capsule where the styles and culture of the 1920s and 30s are almost tangible, a feeling encouraged by the town’s many themed shops, stores, and festivals.

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After checking into our hostel, Sarah and I jumped on the opportunity to explore the city center. We had a lot of fun walking around, admiring the architecture and exploring the themed shops and stores.

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I was alternatively unnerved and amused by the strange feeling of dissonance that came from seeing modern cars and cafes next to the historical architecture, but it faded as I grew used to the style. There were even some old-fashioned cars parked by the sidewalk and driving down the streets, which was very entertaining!

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We spent the afternoon in the city center before heading back to our hostel for some much-needed sleep. We started the next morning by walking on the beach, enjoying the novelty of black sand and the sound of the waves. Gardens, fountains, and even an amphitheater stretched alongside the beach as we neared the city center.

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We also visited a small park, the centennial gardens (complete with waterfall!), and the famous statue of Pania of the Reef.

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Pania of the Reef. An inscription on the statue reads: An old Maori legend tells how Pania, lured by the siren voices of the sea people, swam out to meet them. When she endeavored to return to her lover, she was transformed into the reef which now lies beyond the Napier breakwater. 

 

 

 

 

My favorite part of Napier, other than the amazing Art Deco architecture, was the murals. There were murals everywhere in Napier: in alleys, alongside walkways, and looming over parking lots. They were all beautifully painted and many depicted the ocean or had environmental conservation messages.

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A caption reads: Conservation is the preservation of Human life on earth.” Rob Stewart 1979 – 2017

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This mural captioned: Dedicated to all Fjordland crested penguins & all of New Zealand’s 17 penguin species. Long may you live.

I had so much fun exploring Napier. The gorgeous beach, inspirational murals, and incredible Art Deco architecture and the 1930s theme cemented Napier as my favorite place we visited on our trip. Although we only spent one full day there, we packed it full of fun activities and rejuvenating time in the outdoors.

Next stop, Taupo!

Until next time,

Rachael

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