Our final area for 2016 has been the beautiful Hawkes Bay. As well as being one of New Zealand premier areas for wine it also has stunning Art Deco architecture in Napier and Hastings. 
In 1931 Napier was hit by a massive earthquake which obliterated the town and also made a mess of Hastings. Much of Hastings survived because the water system was still in place and they were able to control the outbreak of fires, however, the same could not be said for Napier and the few buildings that survived were then destroyed by fire. 
1931 was the golden era of Art Deco architecture and with a blank canvas to work on, the architects embraced this new style making Napier the Art Deco capital of the world. From all of the marketing about the area I really expected the whole town to be Art Deco but in reality it is restricted to the main town centre with some stunning buildings. The key thing to remember when walking through the town centre is to look up as most of the architecture is above the modern shop fronts. Personally I think it's a shame that they didn't keep to the Art Deco architecture on the shop fronts as well because the few that have done so look amazing.
Further afield there are plenty of walking areas and some great wetlands which are full of birdlife. When the tide is in on a calm day the estuaries are filled with very calm water giving beautiful reflections. However, when the tide is out, you get to see thousands of little crabs scurrying across the mud flats and more snails than I've ever seen before.
We've only been in the area a couple of weeks and haven't really seen much with the Christmas and New Year period. New Zealand stops at this time of the year and everyone heads to the coast, which has made it a lot busier than we are used to! Our next stop part way in to January will be an isolated spot near Tongariro.......looking forward to getting out and walking to shake off some of the Christmas excesses! 

Along the beach these structures have been put in place to cover something, couldn't work out what. 
New stormwater drain out of the town has been covered with this short viewing platform. Mixed opinions from the locals on whether or not it was worth it.
If you feel like really embracing the Art Deco world then a tour around the place in a vintage car is the way to go.
Weather has been hot and produced some stunning cloud formations.
One of many things to see along Marine Parade.
Great example of the Art Deco style and highlighted on the driving tour brochure you can buy from the Art Deco Trust
Came as quite a surprise on our tour to discover a disused hospital which is fallen into disrepair. Would be very cool to get inside but judging by the amount of warning signs and tape I'm guessing it wouldn't be too safe!
Te Mata Peak as a stunning formation created by two tectonic plates pushing together and forcing one of the plates up. New Zealand may well be known as the shaky isles but it certainly makes for some incredible land features.
Memorial Fountain captured during the last light of the day on Marine Parade
Bronze statue capturing the style of the Art Deco period.....very elegant.
Looking up to see the Art Deco style
Tucked up above the shops is this stunning frontage
A walk along Marine Parade takes you past these quirky buildings. Six Sisters has fantastic coffee and you can sit on the front watching the world go by as you look out to sea.
One of the old cars for touring the town in outside the Art Deco Centre building
Hastings also embraces the Art Deco architecture.
One of the Art Deco buildings in Hastings
Early morning on the viewing platform in Napier. Strange to think it's just a fancy cover for a storm water drain.
The fountain again, this time with early morning light
A walk around the Ahuriri Estuary takes you alongside this rail track. It's worth walking the estuary and both high and low tides to see how dramatically it changes and the different wildlife you encounter.
Tide in early morning at the Ahuriri Estuary
The sunrise wasn't as spectacular as I'd hoped on this morning but it was still nice to be out in the peace and quiet of the early morning
And finally, the last image and sunset of the year.....and what a year it has been :-)
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