Day 10: Napier
Today I spent my day touring the Art Deco buildings of downtown Napier. This area of New Zealand was almost completely demolished in an earthquake during the 1930s. Interestingly, the earthquake actually caused a great deal of land to rise in this area that was previously covered in water. This allowed Napier to grow into the city that it is today. Architecturally, Napier also has one of the largest representations of Art Deco style buildings because the whole area needed to be rebuilt during a time of depession when many cities were not building at all. I learned about all of this from a film at the Art Deco trust here in Napier.
After watching the film, the trust provided me with a map so I could take a little walking tour of the city center to see the buildings. In some ways, walking the city feels like stepping back in time. There were even old-time cars! This area also hosts a Gatsby style picnic once a year where everyone dresses up in period outfits, jazz bands play in the parks, and the city transforms to another era.
*One building even said "BENNETT'S"
After a morning of touring, I stopped into a local bakery called Zig Zag that Heather recommended for a true Kiwi experience...a meat pie! For only NZ$4 I had a delicious steak and mushroom meat pie.
Napier has also become know for their public art. One project they are currently working on is called Sea Walls. As a way to address graffiti, the city is commissioning world artists to create large murals on building walls. It's neat because many of them are in alleyways so you come upon them unexpectedly as you walk the city center.
Heather also told me to look for a sculpture of a woman who just appears to be waving. The little know thing about this sculpture through is that if you look toward the direction of her extended arm there is a sculpture of a little boy across the street on a building pole. It took me a few moments to spot him but sure enough there he was waving back!
This evening, though, I had another true Kiwi experience...quiz night! Heather's school, Fairhaven, was hosting their annual fundraiser quiz night. Heather invited me along promising a great time and it sure was! I learned all kinds of things related to New Zeland and helped out on a few questions about American culture (baseball and Beyonce). Our most successful category was desserts of the world. Kiwis do know how to laugh and have a great time. I even learned a new game called heads or tails!