On February 3, 1931 at 10:47 a.m., the history of Napier seemed to vanish from the earth. An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale flattened the city along with the neighboring town of Hastings. 258 people died in this devastating earthquake. However, Napier has long since risen from the ruins to become a flourishing city in the 2000’s.
For the magazine North & South, the entire area around Hawke Bay has progressed into the country’s center of optimism. This recognition is due particularly to the typical weather of this region, where the sun shines more reliably than anywhere else on the island. As a result, fruit and vegetables grow abundantly; more than 20,000 tons of grapes ripen on the vine annually, later to be transformed by 17 well-known wine cellars into the best wines in New Zealand. This abundant natural wealth is the foundation of prosperity in Napier and Hawke Bay.
Visitors can make unique discoveries here. You will look in vain for traces of New Zealands’s pioneer days between Marine Parade and Oak Street, but you will find glorious examples of Spanish mission and Art-Deco style of architecture which dominated the reconstruction of the city in the mid-1930’s after the earthquake.
The Criterion Hotel, the A & B Building, Rothmans Building (a blue masterpiece at Inner Harbor), as well as numerous buildings between Crave Street and Marine Parade are prime examples lending Napier the title of one of the best-preserved cities of Art-Deco style in the world. The harbor promenade, although less dominated by artistic forms of construction, is certainly worth taking a stroll along. You will see that the ocean plays an important role, even on land.
At Hawke Bay Aquarium you can observe the plant and animal life of the ocean on three different floors of the building. A dolphin and seal show in Marineland is an even livelier attraction. If you who would like some peaceful moments, a climb up Bluff Hill (Lighthouse Road) should be part of your itinerary. From the top of Bluff Hill you have a splendid panoramic view over the city, and afterwards you can take a leisurely stroll through Napier’s most beautiful residential area. The beaches are not as inviting as elsewhere, since they are covered with a coarse black sand. However, an overnight stay should still be planned into your schedule. The majority of hotels are either located in the vicinity around Westport (Meeanee Quay, towards Gisborne, with a windsurfing area across the street) or on the long Taradale Road (towards Hastings) which is lined by stately palm trees.