Friday, January 31, 2014

The Highlight of my Holiday to New Zealand

My family and I had a wonderful time in the north island of New Zealand, but instead of giving you a full round-up, I thought I'd just show you my absolute highlight of the trip.  Since it has a vintage bent and will (hopefully) give some direction to my blog later in the year, I figured you'd all be interested!

My highlight was Napier.

Napier, circa1900

Napier was your typical town of mostly wooden and some brick buildings, but on the 3rd of February 1931 it was hit by an earthquake that leveled the town.  What didn't fall down was burnt down by the ensuing fire.  The earthquake raised the land 2-3 metres in some places, turning previously marshy ground into habitable land.  The town was rebuilt in 22 months with all buildings done in the Art Deco style.  Its these buildings that make the town the international destination it is today.

For me, Art Deco is the ultimate design style, closely followed by Art Nouveau.  What makes Napier unique is the density of these gorgeous buildings in the town centre.  Sadly, some were torn down before the value of such things were appreciated.

We stayed in the best hotel - The Masonic.  The Masonic has been in operation on the same site since 1861 (you can actually see the original building in the photo above, on the left).  It was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake mostly by fire and rebuilt in its current art deco glory.  The owners have been doing wonderful work renovating the place over the last few year, and its magnificent!

Our room was gorgeous - a corner room over looking the town.  I spent part of our first evening sitting on the jarvie lounge suite with the windows open, drinking a lovely glass of local chardonnay and reading a history book on the buildings of Napier.  It was a pretty divine moment!

My husband is a golfing tragic, and one of the worlds top courses is 20 minutes from Napier, so we spent most of the next day there while Steve and Olivia played a round of (very expensive!) golf.  But that afternoon we grabbed an ice cream and sat under the colonnades that surround the sound shell on the beach.

Sadly, I didn't take many photos of the buildings in the town.  To be honest, I was really trying to take it all in to my memory rather than focusing on taking photographs.

The following morning, our last in Napier, we booked a tour in a 1939 Packard with a very knowledgeable driver named David.  He drove us around, teaching us about the history and introducing us to some of the more famous buildings.

My favourite building was the National Tobacco Company building which is unusual amongst the buildings in Napier, because it is a blend of Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

 The classic arch in a square over the door, complete with sun ray lines - all art deco features - are finished off with art nouveau touches of flowers and fruit.  Even the classic art deco speed lines got a makeover to become straight vines with leaves.

These lights are solid brass and are very heavy apparently.  It takes two strong men to lift them.  They are exceptionally beautiful!

Our tour finished before we knew it (how quickly an hour and a half can pass when you are having a great time!!!) and we were back in town.  Our lovely driver was more than happy for me to pose for this photo:

Shame the lighting is so harsh, but you do what you can when opportunities like this arise!

Sadly, our time in Napier was over and we had to move on.  But I'm planning on going back!  Each year in February the Art Deco Trust hold the Art Deco Weekend where they have amazing themed events and everyone gets dressed up and wanders around the town.  How much fun does that sound!?!

So I'm going - or at least I hope to be going.  When we checked out from The Masonic I put my name on the list to get a room there for the 2015 weekend.  Its the kind of event where people book for the following year when they check out, so I'm not guaranteed a room yet.  I'll find out in March, but I have my fingers crossed!

If I do get the nod I will be aiming my wardrobe at the mid 1930s, and mixing vintage with outfits I make from vintage patterns - I'll make most of my day wear and maybe one amazing silk satin gown.  I'm hoping this will be interesting for you all AND provide me with a challenge.  I love a good challenge!

Do any of you go to the Art Deco Weekend?  Is it anyone else's idea of heaven?



  1. I've visited Napier before and loved it. The buildings are just stunning. The thing I remember most about the town though is the porpoise pool. When we were there they were letting the water out of the pool, with the porpoise still in. The racket he was making in protest could be heard from blocks away. Very funny...for us at least.

    1. Oh god that sounds awful! I don't think they have that pool anymore. I didn't see it advertised anywhere....

  2. Thank you for the photos and details! My husband is a deco freak and he used to own a Packard, so I'll share it with him. I live in the U.S. and love those pictures from a world away.

    1. It was such an amazing car. I bet your husband would love it!!!

  3. Just stumbled here via Male Pattern Boldness - your mention of New Zealand caught my eye. We head up to Art Deco weekend every year: I'm just starting to think about this year's wardrobe! Do you know The Dreamstress? She's written a couple of accounts of the weekend on her blog:

    1. How awesome is Peter's blog - its my favourite. Very happy to have you here Lauren :)

      I haven't heard of The Dreamstress but I'll go and check it out now! Maybe I'll see you next year!!

  4. My sister lives there, and adores Deco Days! It sound like tons of fun.

    1. I reckon that it would be an absolute ball Sandra!!! I really hope I get to go!!!