Napier, a city of about 57,000 people, lies northeast of Wellington - about 4 hours by road. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931. The city fathers decided to rebuild it and to give it some character in doing so. The city is home to neatly planned streets and brightly colored art deco buildings. The earthquake raised the land about four feet, and actually gave Napier more usable real estate!


Like Copenhagen's Little Mermaid, Napier has a statue. This one is called Pania of the Reef, and recalls a legend in Maori culture. Pania was a sea being who fell in love with a warrior. But she had to return to the sea everyday to tend to her "people." Her warrior husband tried to trick her into staying, but her sea creatures drew her down into the reef. Her husband searched frantically for her but never found her. Her image is said to lie beneath the surface on a local reef.


I took this photo to demonstrate the colorful and fanciful decor of the buildings. Having an interest in trains helped. Before we arrived, we put the model railroad on our itinerary. Unfortunately, the opening times had changed and we were not able to see the exhibit. But we had coffee next door and snapped photos anyway.


The town is now home to many retired people and an attraction to tourists. It has a festive atmosphere in almost every street.

Napier is at the gem of Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand's foremost wine production areas.


This building, located away from the downtown, was of some interest because of the decoration.


We were able to visit the sea-side aquarium which was of great interest as well. The aquarium has an underwater tunnel, with a moving sidewalk that permits up close views of the specimens. Included among them are several species of shark. This one was resting on the sea floor.

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