In 1931, the small coastal town of Napier was forever changed by New Zealand’s worst natural disaster: the Hawke’s Bay earthquake, which reached 7.8 on the Richter scale, claiming 250 lives and razing Napier’s CBD to the ground. The tragedy created a blank canvas for Art Déco, the architecture style that prevailed worldwide in the first half of the 20th century. Napier holds one of the most well-preserved Art Déco ensembles in the world and is currently working to get listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
National Geographic Orion
A cloudless morning broke over Hawkes Bay, New Zealand as National Geographic Orion motored into the town of Napier. After breakfast, we were alongside the dock and set out for the day’s adventures. The historic town was damaged in a significant earthquake during the 1930s and was rebuilt all at once in the current style of the time, Art Deco. It remains one of the largest concentrations of this architectural style in the world, and it gives the whole town the feeling that it is from a different era. Some guests ventured out to take in the buildings and history of the town, while others took a longer bus ride out to the southern point of the bay, named Cape Kidnappers by Captain Cook, to view the enormous colony of Australasian gannets. In the evening, we tossed off the lines and enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we turned our backs on the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and began sailing south.