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A New Zealand Town's Art Deco Architecture Rivals That Of Any Other City

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TWC News: A New Zealand Town's Art Deco Architecture Rivals Any Major City In The World
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A unique festival in Napier, New Zealand celebrates the town's renowned Art Deco architecture while also paying homage to how it came to be. NY1's Valarie D'Elia has the story.

Move over South Beach, the new Art Deco capital of the world is in New Zealand.

Every February, the sunny seaside town of Napier in Hawke’s Bay gets decked out in 1930s splendor for its annual Art Deco Festival.

The festival is part celebration and part memorial to what’s considered New Zealand’s worst natural disaster that shook the North Island back in 1931.

"People actually rushed outside and the strength of the earthquake, it was it was like trying standing on the back of a galloping horse," Win Smith of the Art Deco Trust said.

As I learned as a guest of New Zealand tourism, the earthquake immediately changed the complexion of the town.

"So you've got a town that was absolutely destroyed by earthquake and then gutted by fire," Smith said.

The earthquake created an opportunity for the town to build what is now regarded as the world’s most impressive collection of authentic Art Deco architecture.

"We claim that in a one and a half hour walk we can actually show you more Art Deco than it would take days to find in any of the major cities in the world," Smith said.

In the central business district alone there are 140 buildings that represent various styles of the time.

That includes classic Art Deco with its architectural symmetry, fountains and sunbursts and stripped classical with its flattened Roman and Greek columns commonly seen on banks.

The glamorous homes of Hollywood stars popularized the Spanish Mission style.

Neo Deco can also be seen, stepped back in Zigarette fashion, inspired by Egyptian design.

While visitors to Napier don’t have to dress the part to immerse themselves in an earlier era, it’s part of the fun.

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As is common practice in the travel industry, Travel With Val often receives complimentary travel or reduced "media" rates at hotels, resorts and attractions, including those that may be featured in these reports. Such consideration is not taken in exchange for any express or implied promise or understanding of any nature, particularly regarding the content of these reports. These reports only feature travel providers personally recommended by Valarie D’Elia in the exercise of her independent editorial judgment, and do not represent the endorsement of Time Warner Cable or any third party. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP