Napier, with its pleasant Mediterranean climate and famous art deco architecture, is a charming and lively seaside resort located on the eastern side of North Island. With a rich farming and horticultural hinterland, Napier is the main center and port of the Hawke’s Bay province. It also is the largest wool-exporting port in New Zealand, while the nearby Hastings area is famous as a fruit- and wine-growing region.
In 1931, Napier was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake. The city was rebuilt in a Spanish mission and art deco style that is unique to New Zealand. Napier’s lovely Marine Parade lures the visitor with a variety of attractions. Performing dolphins and seals can be seen at Marineland, and the Hawke’s Bay Aquarium has a fascinating collection of marine life, including sharks and piranhas. Events relating to the 1931 earthquake are featured at the excellent Hawke’s Bay Museum. One of its best permanent exhibitions deals with the art of the East Coast’s Ngati Kahungunu people. Other displays cover the colonial history and art of New Zealand. Just north of the museum is the Kiwi House, the only such place in the country where it is possible to actually touch and feed the indigenous flightless bird, the symbol of New Zealand.