Tag Archives: Napier

Napier, Art Deco Capital of the world

No other city has such a great variety and concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s, including Spanish Mission, Stripped Classical,  and especially Art Deco. Napier is known as the Art Deco Capital of the world.

The Soundshell, JT Watson, 1935 - Art Deco Capital
The Soundshell, JT Watson, 1935
Soundshell at night
Soundshell at night from Wikimedia Commons

The Art Deco Capital is situated on one of the world’s most active tectonic fault lines.

The Colonnade and Plaza, JT Watson, 1936-1939 - Art Deco Capital
The Colonnade and Plaza, JT Watson, 1936-1939

New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake took place on February 3rd 1931, killing 258 people and leveling many of Napier’s buildings. The 7.9 magnitude quake broke the water mains, and hours later fires destroyed most of the remaining buildings.

The Veronica Sunbay, JT Watson, 1934
The Veronica Sunbay, JT Watson, 1934

The HMS Veronica, an Acacia-class sloop of the Royal Navy, was in port at Napier on the day of the quake. She radioed Auckland for help, and her sailors helped with rescue and salvage. The sea bed rose up beneath her, so she was docked for inspection. She and her crew are commemorated by the Veronica Sunbay, above. This is actually a replica of the one built in the 1930s.

The Kirk Sundial, Louis Hay, 1933
The Kirk Sundial, Louis Hay, 1933

Napier began to rebuild as soon as possible, in part to inspire optimize in her citizens after the disaster.

The British - South African War Memorial, 1906
The British – South African War Memorial, 1906

Three characteristics were important in the new buildings – they needed to be safe, modern and inexpensive. Art Deco was perfect for this.

The Masonic Hotel, 1932
The Masonic Hotel, 1932

Art Deco eschewed the kind of ornamental details that were first things to fall into the streets during the 1931 earthquake. The Masonic Hotel, above, is one of two buildings in Napier with parapet ornaments, and they were built to be earthquake-proof – at least by the standards of the time.

The T&G Building, 1936
The T&G Building, 1936

Art Deco architecture was the successor to and reaction against Art Nouveau, a style which flourished in Europe between 1895 and 1900.

ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932

Consider the Art Nouveau architecture of Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906).

The Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906)
The Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906) – from Wikimedia Commons

It’s real different from buildings in the Art Deco style.

The Central Post Office
The Central Post Office

“In 1905 Eugène Grasset wrote and published Méthode de Composition Ornementale, Éléments Rectilignes,[45] in which he systematically explored the decorative (ornamental) aspects of geometric elements, forms, motifs and their variations, in contrast with (and as a departure from) the undulating Art Nouveau style of Hector Guimard, so popular in Paris a few years earlier.” – Wikipedia

Bennets (HA Westerholm, 1929) and Blythes (1933) Buildings
Bennets (HA Westerholm, 1929) and Blythes (1933) Buildings
Blythes Building (1933)
Blythes Building, 1933

Grasset stressed the principle that various simple geometric shapes like triangles and squares are the basis of all compositional arrangements. The reinforced concrete buildings of Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage, and particularly the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, offered a new form of construction and decoration which was copied worldwide.[46] ”  – Wikipedia

The Criterion Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
The Criterion Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Hawkes Bay Chambers is an excellent example of the Art Deco style.

Hawkes Bay Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Hawkes Bay Chambers, EA Williams, 1932

“Art Deco was associated with both luxury and modernity; it combined very expensive materials and exquisite craftsmanship put into modernistic forms. Nothing was cheap about Art Deco: pieces of furniture included ivory and silver inlays, and pieces of Art Deco jewelry combined diamonds with platinum, jade, and other precious materials.” – Wikipedia

Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932

The style became more simplified by the 1930s.  And Napier didn’t really need luxury , she needed inexpensive buildings fast, and buildings that she could be proud of.

I need to make a point of going back to see as many building interiors as I can. I suspect that I’ll find some touches of luxury.

30's boy
30’s boy

A boy from the 1930s waves to his mother across Emerson Street.

30s mother
30s mother

In 1922 Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb. This sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, and Egyptian motifs showed up in the decorative elements of Art Deco architecture. Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, below, is a great example.

Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Zoom in for a close look at the ziggurats, the lotus and falcons on the capitals, and the sunbursts and the zigzag patterns.

Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Colenso Chambers, below, has a nice Spanish Missions style.

Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932

The Provincial Hotel, below, is another example of the Spanish Missions style.

The Provincial Hotel, 1932
The Provincial Hotel, 1932

Trinity Methodist Church was built in 1876. It’s a great example of colonial wooden church architecture. It’s now the only church in Napier’s city center built before the 1931 earthquake.

Trinity Methodist Church, 1876
Trinity Methodist Church, 1876

The Public Trust Office, below, is a Classical Revival design, not really in favor by the 1930s. It’s solid mass allowed it to survive the quake.

The Public Trust Office, 1922
The Public Trust Office, 1922

The term Art Deco was coined for that style only in the 1960s. During rebuilding the people of Napier only knew that they were building one of the most modern cities architecturally in the world.

Madisons, 1932
Madisons, 1932

Much of Napier, today’s Art Deco Capital of the world, was rebuilt in just two years.

Scinde Building, EA Williams and HA Westerholm, 1932
Scinde Building, EA Williams and HA Westerholm, 1932

Of 164 buildings built between 1920 and 1940, 140 stand today.

Thorp's Building, Louis Hay, 1932
Thorp’s Building, Louis Hay, 1932

The Art Deco Capital is a well preserved relic of that time period.

Parker's Chambers, Louis Hay, 1932
Parker’s Chambers, Louis Hay, 1932

County Hotel was the second reinforced concrete building in Napier, which probably helped it survive the quake.

County Hotel, 1908, extension 1935
County Hotel, 1908, extension 1935

The earliest sections of the Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery were completed between 1936 and 1937.

Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery
Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery

Pania was a beautiful sea maiden who fell in love with a Maori Chief. Their love couldn’t last, and Pania was drawn back to the sea to become the Pania Reef. Her statue in the Art Deco Capital is one of the most photographed sights in New Zealand.

Pania of the Reef, 1954
Pania of the Reef, 1954

This is one of my longer posts, but there are a lot of great buildings in the Art Deco Capital that I haven’t shown you. Many more are included in the full gallery of 80 pictures below.

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve, home of King Kahikatea

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve offers a 30 minute loop through well-preserved old-growth native forest, with the option to extend the walk with another 30 minute loop.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Leaving the car park, a small bridge crosses a picturesque stream. The water is very clear and the lucky visitor might see small fish, eels or koura (freshwater crayfish).

Stream - White Pine Bush
Stream

The tracks of the first loop are excellent, even in wet conditions.  The second loop’s tracks are very good as well.

The two loops connect at a picnic area next to the stream. Extending the walk is an easy choice; the most huge and impressive old trees are found on this track, including King Kahikatea.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

A boardwalk encourages visitors to stay off of the roots of most of the trees in this area. This kept me close to the huge King Kahikatea, and I was unsuccessful at doing it justice in pictures.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

Later in the loop King Kahikatea can be seen towering over the rest of the forest. Kahikatea is the Maori name for white pine.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

I’m happier with the pictures of the giants below. Unfortunately I’m not able to accurately identify them.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

The pics above and below were shot on a sunnier day when dangerously wet tracks cut my walk short at a nearby reserve.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Walks in White Pine Bush are very easy, and popular with kids. On my first visit I met a couple of boys with their grandparents. They collected an impressive number of painted rocks. There were far more here than anywhere I’ve seen, at least before these kids finished their walk.

Hunters rock
Hunters rock

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve is 30 km north of Napier on State Highway 2.

New growth from old
New growth from old

Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below.

Napier Botanical Gardens and old cemetery

When the the Colonial Secretary in Wellington issued instructions in 1854 to survey and prepare a plan for a town that would become Napier, Commissioner of Crown Lands Alfred Domett included in those plans a botanical gardens.

Napier Terrace entrances
Napier Terrace entrances

There’s plenty of parking by the Napier Terrace entrances. The gardens are on a hill that slopes down from Napier Terrace.

These are fairly small botanical gardens, as you can see from the map below.

Map of Napier Botanical Gardens
Map of Napier Botanical Gardens

The earliest plantings included trees.  The gardens have a nice collection of exotic specimens that are now over 150 years old.

Peruvian pepper tree
Peruvian pepper tree

Napier Cemetery was planned at the same time as the botanical gardens.  It’s located right next door, separated only by the path called Military Track. Many important figures from the early history of Napier are buried in the cemetery.

Napier Cemetery
Napier Cemetery

It’s worth having at least a short walk around the cemetery. Reading the oldest tombstones offers insights on life in early Napier.

Napier Cemetery
Napier Cemetery

I’ve never seen a stage like the one in the center of the botanical gardens. It would be interesting to see a performance there.

Stage
Stage

There are three small aviaries.

Aviaries
Aviaries

The concentration of features near Spencer Road suggest that this is the main entrance. The parking is much more limited at this end of gardens though.

Near the Spencer Road entrance
Near the Spencer Road entrance

The duck pond is right next to Spencer Road.

Pond
Pond

In the gardens shown below water plants grow from a stream between soil beds containing other plants.

Botanical gardens
Botanical gardens

I walked back up the hill among the collection of native ferns, and many more big old trees from other parts of the world.

Native ferns
Native ferns

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

Great views of Hawkes Bay from Bluff Hill Lookout

Bluff Hill Lookout offers great views over Hawke’s Bay, from Mahia in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south. You can look over the city of Napier, and directly down on the Port of Napier.

Sturm's Gully Reserve
Sturm’s Gully Reserve

There’s a car park at the top. I wanted to make a walk of it, so I took the Bluff Hill Walkway starting at Sturm’s Gully Reserve, where Hornsey Road meets Karaka Road.

Bluff Hill Walkway
Bluff Hill Walkway

As indicated in the signs in the pic above, poison is used in this area to control the usual pests.  I saw a large rat on the way up. He looked at me and continued casually on his way.

The path to the top is steep, but there are at least two benches along the way to have a rest. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the loop. At the top of the hill is a large grassy field.  I sat for a while on a bench at the northwest corner, taking in the view.

Looking west over Hawkes Bay and Napier
Looking west over Hawkes Bay and Napier

The field slopes up to the car park. The panorama below shows the full view from the bottom of the field. For the fourth largest shipping container terminal in New Zealand, the Port of Napier looks pretty small.

View from Bluff Hill
View from Bluff Hill

From the top, near the car park, you can see north to Cape Kidnappers.

Looking south over Hawkes Bay and Napier
Looking south over Hawkes Bay and Napier

The sun set early on a winter’s day.

Sunset over Hawkes Bay
Sunset over Hawkes Bay

To return I followed Lighthouse Road for a short distance to reach the walkway.

Evening on Bluff Hill
Evening on Bluff Hill

There is no sidewalk, but traffic wasn’t too bad. The walkway is on the left, a short distance ahead in the picture below.

Evening on Bluff Hill
Evening on Bluff Hill

The view from Bluff Hill is worth a look, and easy to reach by car. The walk to the top was worth it as well,

Please enjoy the full gallery of 9 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track, a wetlands walk in Napier

Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track is an easy walk of about an hour. The track is a loop around the estuary.

Meeanee Quay entrance to the Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track
Meeanee Quay entrance to the Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track

Industrial Napier is always in the background, but I was surprised to feel that I was well away from it all.

Ahuriri Estuary
Ahuriri Estuary

In southern Hawkes Bay I have observed that Pou Whenua are popular in threes. Note that I do have a tendency to think I’ve spotted a trend after just two examples.

Ahuriri Estuary
Ahuriri Estuary

Like Pekapeka Wetlands, Ahuriri is an important refuge for a wide variety of wading birds including grey herons, royal spoonbills, pied stilts, and occasionally shags, kingfishers and  gannets. Of course a lot of fish, mud dwellers and aquatic plant life call it home as well.

Ahuriri Estuary, Bluff Hill in the background
Ahuriri Estuary, Bluff Hill in the background

The estuary was once much larger than it is today.  The 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, New Zealand‘s largest natural disaster, raised some 40 square km of sea-bed to become dry land. This included Ahuriri Lagoon, which was lifted more than 2.7 meters and resulted in draining 5510 acres of the lagoon. Today, this land is the location of Hawkes Bay Airport, housing and industrial developments and farmland. The new land is easy to recognize on Google Maps.

Comparison map of the extent of Ahuriri Lagoon before(left) and after(right) the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.
Comparison map of the extent of Ahuriri Lagoon before(left) and after(right) the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. – from Wikimedia Commons

Most of Napier was leveled in the quake and subsequent fires.  The rebuilding in the style of the early ’30s resulted in a famous collection of Art Deco architecture.

Ahuriri Estuary Walk
Ahuriri Estuary Walk

The track is very good, firmly packed gravel in some places, boardwalk in others.

Estuary boardwalk
Estuary boardwalk

I didn’t think to check the tide while I was there.  I suspect the water gets a lot higher.

Estuary boardwalk
Estuary boardwalk

Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track is a pleasant wetlands walk.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 9 pictures below. To view on imgur, click here.

Te Mata Peak

It seems to be the first place locals tell you to go in Hastings, and for good reason – Te Mata Peak is the highest peak in the area, and offers views in every direction, over the Heretaunga Plains, and Hawke’s Bay, including Napier, the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges and Cape Kidnappers.  On a clear day you can see as far as Mount Ruapehu and Mahia Peninsula.

North toward Napier from Te Mata Peak
North toward Napier from Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Park is a 99 hectare recreational reserve with a variety of hiking and mountain biking tracks, a fair number of which seem to converge on the peak.  Other trails lead through forest and along limestone valleys.

Looking west from Te Mata Peak
Looking west from Te Mata Peak

The landscape of the park itself is the most beautiful part of the view in every direction.

Looking west from Te Mata Peak
Looking west from Te Mata Peak

The Maori story of Te Mata, from NewZealand.com:

Many centuries ago the people living in pa (fortified villages) on the Heretaunga Plains were under constant threat of war from the coastal tribes of Waimarama. At a gathering in Pakipaki (near Hastings), a wise old woman (kuia) suggested that the leader of the Waimarama tribes, a giant named Te Mata, could be made to fall in love with Hinerakau – the daughter of a Pakipaki chief – and turn his thoughts from war to peace. This mission was quickly accomplished, and Te Mata fell under the spell of the beautifully Hinerakau.

Looking east over the Tukituki River
Looking east over the Tukituki River

However the people of Heretaunga had not forgotten the past and wanted revenge. They demanded that Hinerakau make Te Mata prove his devotion by accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. His last task was to bite through the hills between the coast and the plains, so that people could come and go with greater ease.

Looking south from Te Mata Peak
Looking south from Te Mata Peak

Te Mata died while eating his way through the hills. His half-accomplished work can be seen in what is known as The Gap or Pari Karangaranga (echoing cliffs) and his prostrate body forms Te Mata Peak.

Te Mata Peak, the sleeping giant, from TeMataPark.co.nz
Te Mata Peak, the sleeping giant, from TeMataPark.co.nz

Te Mata Peak is a place that must be visited when in the Hawkes Bay Area.  I’ll return for the views, and also to explore the trails.

Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak

You can view the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  Be sure to check out the panoramas!  To view on imgur click here.  The gallery below uses the Photo Gallery plugin, and offers a nice slideshow feature.  Let me know how you like it!

On a Sunny Day in Hawkes Bay we happened upon Lake Tutira

I had only spent a short time in Hawkes Bay about ten years ago, and I had never been to Lake Tutira.   On a sunny Saturday we headed south and west for Hastings, about a 5.5 hour drive from Auckland,  spending a few hours in Rotorua looking at the usual steaming geothermals and lake scenery.  In the mountains further to the southwest it began to rain hard, and continued through the early evening, clearing by the next morning.  The weather was good for the next ten days.

Hawkes Bay, north of Napier
Hawkes Bay, north of Napier

A couple of days after arriving, on the last day of October, I needed to take advantage of an expiring AA fuel discount, so it was prime time for an outing that would empty my tank.  We headed north from Hastings toward Napier.

Hawkes Bay, north of Napier
Hawkes Bay, north of Napier

We enjoyed the views of Hawkes Bay, but kept driving.  We stopped on the way back for the pictures above and below.

This carpark next to Hawkes Bay, north of Napier, allows camping
This carpark next to Hawkes Bay, north of Napier, allows camping

The highway turns away from the coast, and climbs into the mountains.  Lake Tutira looked like a nice place to stop.

Lake Tutira
Lake Tutira

Near the carpark atop a small hill is a small shelter in a Maori style.

Lake Tutira
Lake Tutira

On the other side of the road in is the smaller Lake Waikopiro.

Check out this area on Google Maps.

Lake Waikopiro
Lake Waikopiro

Can you identify this bird?  I’m going with: Grey Heron.

Grey Heron?
Grey Heron?

The many ducks in Lake Tutira gave every impression of expecting food.

Lake Tutira Duck
Lake Tutira Duck

The black swan population didn’t seem to fear us, but they didn’t come as close as the ducks.

Black swan
Black swan

Various tracks offer walks into the surrounding hills and mountains.

Mountains of Tutira
Mountains of Tutira

But we stuck to easier tracks, with nice views of the high ground.

Mountains of Tutira
Mountains of Tutira

On the west side of the lake, past the campgrounds, we saw a flock of wild turkeys, and heard them gobble excitedly when a ‘Kahu’, or New Zealand hawk flew overhead.  We also frightened some large wild hares.

Wild turkeys near Lake Tutira
Wild turkeys near Lake Tutira

Our destination was one of six sites around the lake, this one, like many, located on a peninsula.

Lake Tutira from the pa
Lake Tutira from the pa
Lake Tutira from the pa
Lake Tutira from the pa
Lake Tutira from the pa
Lake Tutira from the pa

After a rest on the pa, we went back the way we had come.

Looking back at the carpark over Lake Tutira
Looking back at the carpark over Lake Tutira

Lake Tutira and the surrounding area are beautiful.  I’ll visit again when I’m next in Hawkes Bay, and walk the whole 5 hour Tutira Walkway.  Signs around the lake suggest that there are more tracks than are mentioned on this DOC page.

Lake Tutira
Lake Tutira

You can view the full gallery of 19 pictures here.  To view on imgur, click here.