One of our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE things about traveling is when we happen upon major celebrations or cultural events. Napier’s “Art Deco Festival” was one such event that we found out about simply by accident.

When discussing our upcoming travel options with a landlord of one of our rentals in Central North Island, we mentioned that we’d likely head to the West Coast, rather than the East Coast next. He mentioned that while Napier in the East was pretty, it was likely all booked up due to the Art Deco Fest, anyhow. I had to ask…”What is that?” A short explanation later (and a bit of googling) and we immediately reversed our travel plans and instead decided to dive headfirst into the crowds and go to Napier instead. We went on the hunt for the highly-sought-after rentals in the Napier/Hastings area, and happened across a beautiful bookabach.co.nz rental that had just been put on the market (and thus was still available). We were booked!

Our rental was located 30 minutes south of Napier in the Hastings/North Havelock area. While Napier is right on the coast, these other little towns are inland and quite agricultural. Just our style!

Napier’s history is what makes it so unique. In 1931 it sustained a huge earthquake that destroyed the town center, collapsed buildings and resulted in deaths of 256 people. Long story short—they rebuilt, and Napier is now recognized as being one of the most perfect preserved cities featuring Art Deco architecture. The “Tremains Art Deco weekend” is a celebration of its Art Deco heritage and history, and features all sorts of events and activities (including guided tours for kids or adults—but you must pre-book)!

We first arrived to watch the parade of cars, and were shocked at how close New Zealander’s crowd in on the parade of vintage vehicles. I couldn’t even catch a decent photo—because in order to see the cars, I had to stand nearly within arm’s reach of them. Yikes!

Spectators crowded both on the streets and the buildings:

A better view was afforded after the parade, when the cars parked along the Marine Parade (ocean-front road) and we were able to walk among them and admire both the parked vehicles and sometimes their passengers, who were still hanging around.

This car got a lot of laughs (covered in stuffed wildlife)…and it couldn’t have been more fitting that they parked in front of “Opossum World”–a retail store that carries Possom/Merino-wool mix clothing.

Classy couple in a classy setting!

Did our kids enjoy the parade? Yes–they did! Of course, it wasn’t the kind of parade they were likely hoping for (with floats and candy being thrown from the vehicles)—but it was enjoyable for a period of time, nonetheless. I really wish the crowds would keep a bigger distance between them and the parade, so that everyone could have a better view, however.

The parade is only ONE of the many, many activities available during the festival. Upcoming blog posts will feature the street performers, air show, and extremely popular soapbox derby races!

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