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!