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February 25, 2020
Napier, New Zealand: Art Deco Highlights

Russell writes…

Last evening, Gail unwittingly consumed Phenylephrine with alcohol. This morning, she was still so loopy and dizzy that she decided to curtail her activities for our day in Napier, New Zealand. We were originally scheduled for a 4.5 hour “Cape Kidnappers & Gannet Safari” excursion. Instead, Russell turned in our tickets and set out on his own with the three-hour “Art Deco Highlights of Napier” excursion.

On February 3, 1931, Napier (and surrounding Hawke’s Bay) was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The entire downtown was leveled by the quake and subsequent fire. When the city rebuilt, it did so with the prevailing architecture of the day: Art Deco. When downtown began renovating in the 1960s, wise historians realized what a unique time capsule they had. A trust was established, and downtown remains a showcase of Art Deco architecture.

This amazing map shows Napier “before” and “after” the earthquake. The quake created almost 10,000 acres of new land!

Even today, the area remains wary of earthquakes

Downtown Napier continues to evoke Erté, Cole Porter, the Great Gatsby and Frank Lloyd Wright

Here are the four main Art Deco architectural styles…

Strip Classical

Art Deco

Spanish Mission

Prairie Style (note bricks placed both horizontally and vertically)

This building combines Art Deco with indigenous Maori symbols

Even the bathrooms are Art Deco!

The Daily Telegraph newspaper building has a restored interior to match its exterior

The interior of the Daily Telegraph building

Similarly, the interior of the ANZ Bank has been restored

Russell was so enamored by what he saw, he skipped the last hour of his excursion (a panoramic drive into the surrounding neighborhoods). Instead, he took a shuttle back to the ship, grabbed Gail, and went back downtown again. We had a terrific afternoon admiring the downtown architecture, the Marine Parade coast, and the many quirky monuments along the way.

“Wave in Time” – in 2009, Napier erected a statue of Sheila Williams (daughter of architect Ernest William) and her dog Raven

In 2014, Napier added a second statue – a little boy for Sheila to wave at

Sheila and Raven are also featured in a pedestrian crossing light!

Art Deco extends to the Marine Parade, the walkway along the oceanfront

Napier is one of the first places in the world to see the sun rise every day

The Millennium Arch marks where the sun rose on January 1, 2000

Gail was thrilled to capture this photo of a bird directly over the Arch

Today is our 33rd day aboard the Regent Seven Seas Mariner. This is the longest we have ever been on a cruise. (Our 2012 South America cruise was 31 days.) We are still having the time of our lives, and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

When we arrived, Napier had just finished its annual “Art Deco Festival,” which brought 40,000 people and 160 antique cars into the city

Our ship was bid farewell by antique cars, period costumes and a 1930s jazz band!

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