The heart of Art Deco, Napier

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Where I stayed
Centurion Backpackers

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, March 7, 2008

Napier is a warm, inviting and viby city. It reminded me of Grahams Town during the annual Grahams Town Art Festival - it oozes creativity among the 'old worldyness'. In 1931 an earthquake and then fire devastated Napier's inner city. Out of the ashes grew Napier, Art Deco City, "an international icon of Art Deco style and sophistication" (as one of the tourist brochures puts it).
In February each year, the city celebrates its Art Deco heritage with a programme which includes wining and dining, vintage cars and planes, jazz concerts, the Great Gatsby Picnic and more...unfortunately we just missed the party. Napier has an Art Deco trust which also hosts guided walks on an Art Deco trail through Napier. Centurion Backpackers, our accommodation while in Napier, was previously the Centurion Hotel and is one of the buildings on the Art Deco trail. We felt very la-di-da, even though it's only a backpackers now.
Napier is on the coast, but the beach is a pebble beach and not very pretty, in comparison to some of NZ's other beaches. As mentioned though, the beach is not Napier's main attraction.
Feeling deprived from tasting bolder red wine cultivars, we were anxious to go wine tasting and ended-up doing so for one entire day in Hawke's Bay (the wine region around Napier and Hastings), renowned for their 'heavy foot' reds. Highlights included Brooksfields, where apart from the entertaining and amusing host, we tasted a superb Shirah and Cabernet/Merlot - unfortunately both needs to be cellared for a few years so impossible to travel with.
Another was Ngatarawa, a family owned and run wine farm with the splendid slogan - "Life, times told in wine". We really enjoyed all their wines and appreciated one particular initiative - the Worksman Label. This is a label under which each wine is dedicated to one of the farmers (excl. wine industry) in the region. The selected person is photographed and forms the key element on the front of the bottle and their story features on the back. In such a way - the unsung hero's get an opportunity to shine. This was the first hear the range, consisting of four cultivars, was released and we're sure it will be a roaring success. We bought the Cabernet/Merlot - dedicated to the Venison Farmer.
The Cri is a little bar below the Centurion Backpackers and we decided to join a local comedy evening where three guys, called the Impersonators, entertained us by improvising impromptu using inputs from the audience. It was very entertaining and the audience was fun.
I'm sorry we didn't have a week to spend in Napier and surrounding areas - there's still a lot be explored...
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