A couple of weeks ago, I was chairing a two day conference in Wellington and then visited my Uncle in Levin. El Hubs and I decided to take the opportunity to whisk to Napier, which is about 320 kilometres (198 miles) from Wellington. It’s famous really for one thing – Art Deco architecture.

Napier was basically flattened by a massive earthquake in 1931 that killed over 200 people. The city was rebuilt during the Art Deco period and a large number of buildings in the centre of the city still exist. Along with South Beach, Miami Florida, Napier is an architecturally important city and is so different from other cities in New Zealand. It was a bit like stepping back in time.

We stayed at the Masonic hotel, which was built in 1932 and designed by Wellington architect, W.J. Prowse. The hotel is located on the waterfront with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The interior is amazing with its red, black and white geometric-patterned foyer and Art Deco furnishings. We only stayed overnight and asked to stay in an original room. Talk about getting a taste of what it might have been like in the 1930s! French doors opened onto a roof top patio where you could take in the panoramic sea views. These rooms are spacious but basic (especially the bathroom/toilet). Ideal really for overnight stays or if you’re travelling on a budget. The next time we visit, we plan to stay in an Art Deco suite.

We rushed across the road to Marine Parade to see the Soundshell Stage. Designed by Napier architect, J. T. Watson, the soundshell was built in 1935 and is the most magnificent structure. Simple gorgeous. I have been to Napier before, as a teenager with my Dad. But I have only one memory of this visit – the Soundshell – and it was wonderful to see it again.

Arriving around 8.00pm Friday night, we only had Saturday to rush around the central part of Napier. We visited the Art Deco Centre and various shops with an Art Deco flavour. I’d really love to return to Napier next year because there is an annual Art Deco festival. People dress up in Art Deco clothes, drive 1930’s cars and wear period jewellery. It will be held February 20-23, 2014 and I’d be SO into it.

We left Napier around 5.00pm for the trip back to Wellington. We didn’t get time to go on an Art Deco walking tour – maybe next time.

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Part of the foyer at the Masonic hotel.

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Going towards our room – more Art Deco furnishings.

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The Masonic hotel.

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I absolutely loved the Soundshell – simply stunning.

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Napier’s black sand beach.

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Such a beautiful building!

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Entrance to the Masonic hotel – loving the geometric floor pattern.

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