The earth quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. Two minutes later it was hit by another 7.3. What was spared was lost to fire and the more than 500 aftershocks that struck in the following two weeks. Many of the people killed were struck by falling building ornaments and gargoyles. When the dust settled it was discovered that 40 square kilometres of undersea raised itself in the quake making the harbour area huge. Only 1 building remains from that day in the harbour area. The building is maintained and kept as it was that fateful day.
The town is now famous for its style of building. After the earthquake devastated the town the towns people rebuilt in the fashion of the current day. Today, the town is known all over the world for its Art Deco design. The buildings have been recognized as architecturally unique, and since the 199’s have been protected and restored. Napier and South Beach in Miami, Florida are considered the two best preserved Art Deco towns in the world and Napier has been nominated as a World Heritage Site. The area attracts thousands of tourists every February for the Art Deco event celebrating Napier’s Art Deco heritage and history. All the town’s folk dress in the 1930 costumes and wear these clothes for the week of the festival. They even have cars from that era and were kind enough to bring a selection to the ship for photographs (we’ll miss the festival by 1 week – )
Napier is a popular tourist city and has one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country, a statue on Marine Parade called “Pania of the Reef”. It’s similar to the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Marine Parade is a three mile long public beach area. Everything along the promenade is aimed at vacationers, including miniature golf, a roller skating ring and public baths. They even have hot salt pools. The area is immaculately clean and the people extremely friendly.
Gert and I are on our own today, the port authority has provided the ship with a free shuttle. We head into town to walk around and admire the Art Deco buildings. There’s a ton of antique shops. The area is very “English Garden” setting. As we walk around we visit a wonderful park where we see fountains, the gardens are just out of this world. Some Hibiscus plants are humongous and the colour really intense. There’s a huge fig tree and we really can’t photo it as it’s monstrous. It has bright shiny leaves. It was just so peaceful to walk around and enjoy the scenery. After our walk we ventured and had a coffee, we purchase a muffin to share – it’s a spinach, red pepper, onion muffin and it’s delicious, it’s served with a mango chutney that’s to die for. Well sated, we continue our walk around town. This is just such a lovely place, full of history and it’s people are friendly and proud of it’s town. A great day.