Napier wine tours: New Zealand’s art deco capital

New Zealand may not be where you would expect to find some of the finest preserved 1930s Art Deco architecture in the world, but a national disaster soon saw the town of Napier reborn from rubble in style.

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On February 3 1931, a massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked the region of Hawke’s Bay in the country’s South Island – devastating the area’s second largest town and commercial centre Napier. It only took two years, however, for much of Napier to be restored in a way that reflected the architecture of the times – Art Deco, Stripped Classical and Spanish Mission – giving local architect Louis Hay an opportunity to pay homage to his inspiration, US designer Frank Lloyd Writer.

Napier now reflects a time gone by – with a seamless line of 1930s architecture scattered with Maori motifs to remind people of New Zealand’s character – providing an idyllic setting for the town’s other drawing card. Napier is part of the highly revered Hawke’s Bay wine region, which can be visited as part of Napier wine tours – the seaport is generally preferred to its ‘Twin City’ neighbour and the area’s largest town, Hastings, as a base to explore the surrounding vineyards and typically beautiful countryside.

Located among colourful gardens just yards from the shoreline is the statue of Pania of the Reef (a Maori mythical figure), which is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in New Zealand – while nature enthusiasts can witness the world’s largest gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.  And, Napier also celebrates its national heritage by staging an annual Art Deco festival, an incredibly stylish affair that enjoys all things from the 1930s era including vintage cars, fashion and music.

Hawke’s Bay has become synonymous with the country’s finest internationally exported wines, with a host of recognised producers established in the area, including Te Mata Estate, Church Road and Mission Estate – where the first vines were planted by Marist missionaries in 1851. There are around 72 wineries in the region, although most are small, family-owned boutique estates specialising in the production of premium, hand crafted wines – many of which can be sampled as part of a variety of Napier tours.

These include some respected red Bordeaux-style blends that tend to use more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon to create wines with elegant, deep plum flavours – although Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Syrah are also among the region’s signature varieties that feature in Napier wine tours. The region is also regarded as a food haven with a vast array of fine dining restaurants, artisan producers, and a wonderful farmers’ market that brings together the region’s finest fresh local produce every Saturday morning.

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There is also a twice annual Food and Wine Festival, featuring a series of delectable experiences in stunning locations throughout the region. In the winter, visitors can enjoy roaring fires, warming dishes and full-bodied reds, while the summer incarnation brings alfresco dining, BBQs and crisp white wines. When not marvelling at Napier’s stunning pastel coloured coloured buildings or enjoying Napier wine tours amid the sun-stained hills of rolling vineyards, the town also offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, with the Marine Parade a sublime spot to watch the sun fall beneath the waves.

Located among colourful gardens just yards from the shoreline is the statue of Pania of the Reef (a Maori mythical figure), which is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in New Zealand – while nature enthusiasts can witness the world’s largest gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.  And, Napier also celebrates its national heritage by staging an annual Art Deco festival, an incredibly stylish affair that enjoys all things from the 1930s era including vintage cars, fashion and music.

If you are interested in the finest wine tours Napier has to offer, contact our local expert for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke trip that can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements.

 

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