Stroll along Tennyson Street, Napier, and your wandering eye will catch lightning flashes, sunbursts, zigzags, rising orbs and other weird geometric designs.

How can it be that this sun-drenched city, situated on the sweeping, pebbly shores of Hawke’s Bay, has the world’s finest collection of small-scale Art Deco commercial buildings?

The answer lies in the timing of a devastating earthquake that levelled the town in 1931. During the depression years the Chicago Art Deco style was all the rage and so the frantic two year reconstruction of Napier produced a cohesive architectural style in the downtown area. The Art Deco Trust runs daily guided tours to delight and entertain visitors with this visual feast of stylistic motifs.

The city was named after Sir Charles Napier, a captain in the British Army in India. The city’s status as one of our most enjoyable holiday centres, is due to the number of diverse attractions it has to offer – all of them scenic highlights in their own right. Foremost, amongst these, is the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve; the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world. From October to April the colony comes to life with 5,000 pairs of gannets on the headland, apparently unconcerned about the curious humans venturing within two metres of their nests. What a fine spectacle they make swooping low overhead to land with precision by their mate. Several tour operators run tractor-trailer trips along the shoreline to the colony. Alternatively you can walk the 8 km from Clifton.

Napier’s Marine Parade is a spectacular sight with its stately avenues of Norfolk Island pines. The boulevard has beautiful parks, sunken gardens, swimming pools, a mini-golf course and a roller blade rink. Grand views over Hawke’s Bay can be had from the Bluff Hill Lookout above the city.

Te Mata Peak, 11 km from Hastings, Napier’s twin city, commands a spectacular view of the plains. The dramatic vertical cliffs of Te Mata Peak and the backdrop of smooth green rolling pastureland, provide a picture-perfect scene that is the epitome of the unique Hawke’s Bay landscape.

As if all this sensual overload is not enough, this region is one of our finest grape growing areas, so the wine trail is always there to welcome guests for tastings and vineyard meals.

Sightseeing in the morning and dining al fresco in the evening makes for a perfect day in Hawke’s Bay.