When visiting the Hawkes Bay the temptation to compare the two major centres cannot be avoided. Both Hastings and Napier are very progressive cities. The writer’s observation is that Napier is the party town and Hastings is conservative centre.
Because the city was all but totally leveled, it was soon after commenced the rebuild process. Most buildings are dated 1932/3 and 4 and represent the ‘art décor’ of the era. This art décor theme is now protected by the heritage trust, and is one of the cities strong tourist points.
This Napier hotel is one such building.
The cities key commercial attribute is the shipping and wine industries, but Napier also taps into the growing tourism sector. Napier is also served by the Hawkes Bay airport that is located a short distance from the city.
The first European to see the future site of Napier was Captain Cook, who sailed down the east coast in October 1769. He commented: "On each side of this bluff head is a low, narrow sand or stone beach, between these beaches and the mainland is a pretty large lake of salt water”. The site was subsequently visited and later settled by European traders, whalers and missionaries.
The topography puts Napier in danger from a tsunami, as the centre of the commercial city is near sea level.
However, Napier is a delightful city, and the Hawkes Bay is one of those places a long stay is in order.