We almost overlooked and bypassed the city of Napier. We had two options when we left Lake Taupo, return west and follow the coast to Wellington or head east to see the city known for its 1930’s Art Deco Architecture. I will admit now that I had no idea what Art Deco was, but Josh tends to be interested in this stuff and pushed for the Napier visit.
It wasn’t until we were 30 kms or so outside of Napier that we realized Napier was celebrating their annual Art Deco Festival (a tribute to the city which was newly rebuilt entirely in the Art Deco style after its total destruction and levelling in an 1931 earthquake) – our timing was perfect.
With about 200 vintage cars, parading around town or on display, nearly all folks dressed the part, shops were selling the wares, and activities included the Great Gatsby Picnic, the Depression Dinner, a vintage bicycle ride, retro swimsuit competition and parade!
We were able to find parking for the campervan in a temporary field near the beach that was set up for the weekends events. It even had a little black shuttle bus to take you the 15 minute walk back downtown for free.
A little reprieve from the rain. We sat outside and watched the vintage cars roll into town while Ry ran circles around the trees.
^^^Above Rylie wearing her newly styled pine cone thingy necklace. Very nice!^^^
The first afternoon we arrived and hit up the aquarium, which was pretty decent (though not as good as the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the US), with highlights being some tiny rescue penguins, a giant sea turtle (also rescued), and a tunnel oceanarium where you stood on a moving belt that took you through the tunnel with impressive fish, rays, and sharks swimming over your head and beside you.
Unfortunately the whole weekend was pouring rain and we heard its only the 2nd time the festival has had rain in 20 years… nonetheless, we were likely of the 5% of the population not dressed for the 30’s era, sporting our rain coats and Zo in her full body rainsuit. The town vibe was super friendly, and upbeat, and people were keen to chat and/or have their photos taken.
These ladies sat beside us at lunch, their outfits were awesome.
For lunch on both days we chose a cafe with outdoor seating not only to watch people and cars go by, but also to get out of the rain while still being in the action. The 1930’s building facades, complete with the vintage cars and people dressed the part made us truly feel like visitors of time travel. We didn’t venture too far outside of the centre of town during our stay here, but attended all the activities we could find, some of the bigger activities included the vintage car parade, and attending a showing of a short film about the earthquake.
^^^Above: Ry wanted some 1930’s nostalgia so we set her up with a head band.^^^
While Josh took Zo for a nap Ry and I toured the city on this machine.
Waiting for the parade to begin.
Some participants from the vintage bike ride
Not Art Deco, but still beautiful.
We toyed around the idea of staying three nights here, but with the rain and such a big drive to Wellington, we opted to head out on the Saturday afternoon after we felt too soggy to venture out once more.