Visit the Art Deco Capital of the World in Napier New Zealand

by | Jan 11, 2018 | Asia, New Zealand | 0 comments

How did Napier become the Art Deco Capital of the World?


We set out from Wellington to explore this top global destination for Art Deco lovers.

Napier is located on Hawke’s Bay, on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, 300 km northeast of Wellington.

Wellington was its usual wet and windy self when we got in the car. Wellington is surrounded by mountains so we had to drive through the mountains in the rain and fog. You can imagine how much I loved that drive. The sun got stronger with each hairpin turn. We emerged from the mountains into sunshine and spectacular spring weather.

I wanted to see what others thought of the drive from Wellington to Napier so I looked it up on TripAdvisor:

You should enjoy the drive between Wellington and Masterton. This will involve driving over the Pakuratahi Mountains which is hairpin bend after hairpin bend with lots of dramatic scenery. It is a fantastic drive.

Some people like rollercoaster drives with hairpin turns; others (like me) don’t.

Martinborough is a new wine region in New Zealand

We stopped at Martinborough, a charming emerging wine region just an hour and a half east of Wellington,

It was too early in the day to sample delicious New Zealand wine but the owner of this bar was happy to take my pic.


New Zealanders are very friendly and they make a trip more fun

It was too early in the day for wine … but not too early for chocolate

Greytown is a charming Victorian village

Greytown is about 80km outside Wellington. The main street in the village is all Victorian architecture. It is very quaint. There are lots of cafes, bars and restaurants.

Our top destination in Greytown was Schoc Chocolates

In December 2002 Schoc Chocolates was born. In a tiny turn-of-the century cottage, in gourmet Greytown’s main street, owner and creator Murray Langham of the Chocolate Therapy books opened the doors to the sumptuous hand-made chocolates and small Chocolate Therapy studio.


Schoc Chocolates is a unique blend of gourmet chocolate and self-exploration.


We combine the joy and health benefits of consuming quality chocolate with a deeper understanding of one’s inner self.

My inner self loves chocolate


Murray Langham says:

I am happily working with food (chocology) as a means of therapy.


I have been invited to demonstrate chocolate cooking techniques on TV in New Zealand, for the BBC, for Martha Stewart and for the Aussie show – Surf the Menu. I continue to enjoy interpreting personalities through chocolate


I didn’t know that chocolate therapy was a thing.

I have been in chocolate therapy my whole life and didn’t know it!

Have you tried chocolate therapy?

Chocolate Therapy is a party in a chocolate

It’s always 5:00 o’clock somewhere if you are ready for Tequila chocolates

After a full session of chocolate therapy, I was ready for the rest of the drive to Napier.

An Earthquake turned Napier into the Art Deco Capital of the World

The Hawke’s Bay earthquake in 1931 became infamous as the deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand, claiming at least 250 lives and measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. All but a few of Napier’s buildings were completely destroyed by the earthquake and the fires that followed.


The earthquake pushed the seabed up three to six feet, offering ample space to rebuild. And rebuild Napier did.


One hundred and eleven new buildings were constructed in the downtown area between 1931 and 1933. The vast majority took their cues from Art Deco, the era’s cutting-edge architectural trend. The architectural style is known for its linear structure and touches of intricate ornamentation in the form of geometric motifs like chevrons and zigzags. It was also relatively inexpensive thanks to its basic, boxy designs—a bonus considering that the earthquake struck during the middle of the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in history.


As they reimagined their town as an Art Deco showcase, families lived in canvas tents supplied by the government on what was left of their properties or in “tent towns” set up in local parks. Napier architects, largely influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, safeguarded the new structures with the latest engineering techniques, building with reinforced concrete and opting for buildings that stood two stories or less to guard against future earthquakes.


At the time, Napier’s residents just wanted to move on with their lives. Little did the townspeople realize that their reconstruction efforts would result in the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings on Earth, earning it the title of Art Deco Capital of the World.


“Nowhere else in the world will you find as immense a collection of Art Deco architecture in such a small space, all next door to each other; Not even South Beach Miami.”


Before the earthquake, Napier was a prosperous commercial centre, and one of the world’s largest ports for the export of wool and other agricultural products. Now Napier is the Art Deco Capital of the World


We found this plaque on Napier’s main streets

The Masonic Hotel is the premier Art Deco hotel in Napier

Here is the website for the Masonic:

This is another look at the entrance to the Masonic

The Emporium Bar in the Masonic is a treasure trove for Art Deco lovers

You can book ahead:

The bartenders in the Emporium are very friendly

There are Art Deco touches in every part of this photo

This is a lovely Art Deco lamp in the Emporium

Are these dishes Art Deco?

Napier is an oceanside town with a beautiful park along the water

There are beautiful sunken gardens along the waterfront in Napier

Even the retaining walls in Napier are done in an Art Deco style

We stumbled upon this lovely park near our hotel

We took a walk after dinner and found one of Napier’s most iconic Art Deco buildings

We returned to the waterfront park at night to see the light show in the fountain


If you are not into Art Deco, there is another reason to put Napier on your must-visit list: it is the home of New Zealand’s oldest winery.

We awoke to another fabulous sunny day. We drove to Mission Estate Winery, just on the outskirts of Napier

Napier is  the centre of one of the oldest and largest wine growing areas in New Zealand

Napier has with 39 established wineries:

We visited the oldest winery, the beautiful Mission Estate Winery

Wine was brought to Hawke’s Bay in 1851 when Roman Catholic Marist missionaries arrived from France and began planting vines to produce sacramental and table wines for use by the Marist brothers.

Mission’s story begins with a group of French Missionaries. They sailed to New Zealand with little more than their faith, generations of wine making experience and a few precious vines. They established Mission Estate in 1851 founding New Zealand’s oldest winery

By 1870 the Marist brothers began selling their wine commercially.

The lovely Grande Maison, built for the Mission, is the most impressive in the region. The grounds are beautiful with a great restaurant.

Housed in an elegantly restored historic seminary building with sweeping views of Napier, Mission Estate offers visitors a year round complete wine experience.

This is the tasting bar at Mission Estate

The Winery has won awards for its Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

There are many religious overtones in Mission Estate

Church in Antigonish was never like this!

Why Do Winemakers Love Wine Dogs?

What is a Wine Dog?

Mission Estate has a lovely gift shop. This was a feature book in the shop.

I didn’t buy the book but learned a bit about wine dogs. Wine dogs can be trained to sniff out toxins and diseases. They keep sheep out of the vineyards. Most importantly, people love dogs. People buy more wine when they see books about wine dogs.

This is the view of the vineyard at Mission Estate

Back patio overlooking vines in Napier New Zealand for boomervoice

Can you picture yourself here with a nice glass of Mission Estate wine?

The back patio at Mission Estate Winery is very beautiful and relaxing

We had fresh squeezed juice and gourmet coffee at Mission Estate

The restaurant at Mission Estate is fun and lively with great artwork

This is the menu for the restaurant at Mission Estate

When Mission Estate did some renovations, they preserved a bottle of bubbly

Visit Napier, the Art Deco Capital of the World, and enjoy a glass of wine from the birthplace of New Zealand wine

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray