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Age of the Blisters

May 12, 2006 at 10:34 PM | categories: New Zealand | View Comments

It's morning, and time to hit the Art Deco City (TM). Oh damn - wasn't I going to wait until you guessed that?

napier square napier square flowers

Have you noticed a faint PG Wodehouse theme in this trip? New Zealand feels very much like the English countryside does, and it's difficult to avoid musing on Threepwoods and Finknottles, as one carooms along the wrong side of the country lanes. Unfortunately, while I suspect that Bertie's food was often fouler, I also suspect that he got to drink better beer.

Napier, though, fits right into Aunt Agatha's Age of the Blisters. An earthquake in 1931 destroyed the colonial British town, and it was rebuilt almost entirely in the Art Deco style. I'm a little late for the February festival, but happily they don't put the buildings away during the winter - only the people disappear. It's a little less ghostly that last night, but I still can't help feeling that this isn't the social hotspot of New Zealand.

Shrugging off my malaise, I stroll up to the central square and start the self-guided "art deco walk". There seem to be a lot of buildings that I'd like to photograph: out of at least 100, I'll cull a few specimens.

ye olde art deco shoppe ye olde art deco chariot theatre

Have you noticed the awful awnings, yet? They're nice when it rains, and probably nice when it's sunny too, but they make it almost impossible to look at the buildings - unless you're on the opposite side of the street.

telegraph tango again govt building

On a more positive note, observe the streetlamps. They buried all the power and phone lines after the earthquake, so there weren't any poles to hang lights off of - nor any poles for street signs.

hastings street old and new

The seafront itself reminds me of the Palace of Fine Arts. Well it would, wouldn't it? Plus, there's mini-golf! seafront arch napier soundshell minigolf There's a fine line between art deco and kitsch, but to my keen eye the distinction is clear. kitsch art deco You're probably sick of art deco by now, but there's an interesting bank that mixes in Maori motifs.

bank exterior bank ceiling bank ceiling And so I bid a fond farewell to Napier, the Art Deco City (TM). Note the kiwi on the city arms.

city arms napier library

mural bottle shop

Now that the weather is nicer, maybe I can get back to Taupo by noon.

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