Destinations

Art deco adventure

Louise Richardson enjoys fun, food and 1930s style in Napier

From the moment I discovered my first piece of Clarice Cliff pottery at a flea market for the bargain price of $10, I’ve been hooked on art deco. I enjoy 1930s architecture, furniture, fashion, art and, of course, the music. But above all, I just love the sense of glamour that comes with the period. In Napier and the surrounding Hawke’s Bay you can find all these elements in abundance, so it’s the perfect place for a vintage nut like me!

Napier’s Art Deco Weekend – held every February – has become a tourist drawcard, with visitors from every corner of the world. They’re guaranteed to find a festival of fun and frivolity – with picnics, concerts, dinners, guided walks and much more – all with a distinctly 1930s feel.oost of us know the story that leads these revellers to Hawke’s Bay: the horrific earthquake of 3 February 1931, which brought the busy, bustling Victorian towns of Napier and Hastings to their knees. We’ve heard about the fires, the loss of life and the heroism, followed by an innovative rebuilding effort which led to the creation of two uniquely art deco southern hemisphere cities.

on this particular visit, I’m with a good friend and we’ve got fun and food in mind. We check in at the swanky Crown Hotel and quickly decide that the time is ripe for a sip of local vino. Hawke’s Bay is not only known for its Art Deco, they grow jolly good grapes here too – and they sure know what to do with them!We’re so busy sipping and chatting we almost miss the arrival of our ride. Yes, indeed, ladies and gentleman, it’s the honourable or Howard Leamington Chumley-Smythe himself.

He bows as we pop our delicate bottoms on the unsprung seats of his gleaming Austin 7 and keeps up a wonderful witty repartee as he drives us around the city – refreshing our memories of its history and eventually depositing us, with another sweeping bow, outside a newly minted local legend  – The old Church restaurant.Here, owners Karen Sandler and Paul Hill have indulged a love of luxury, turning a former house of worship into a restaurant that’s sumptuous and sophisticated with suitably high-class food to boot. We’re greeted in time-honoured fashion with a glass or two of ooët and we’re glad we wore our best clothes!

A little later, we find ourselves tucking hungrily into a meal that can only be described as fabulous – in fact, my scallops are quite simply sublime – and the evening turns into a deliciously long and lazy one. It’s coolish outside but a roaring fire keeps us toasty while the local wine continues to flow. By midnight we’re happy to hop in a cab and settle down in our comfy beds back at The Crown!

**Fact File

**Get there Air New Zealand flies to Napier regularly. To check it out visit www.airnz.co.nzThe region For info on Hawke’s Bay, visit www.hawkesbay.comThe city To find out about Napier, visit www.napier.govt.nzArt deco For information, visit www.artdeconapier.comWhere to stay The Crown Hotel, www.thecrownnapier.co.nzWhere to eat The old Church, www.theoldchurch.co.nz

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