First PagePrevious PageBack to overviewNext PageLast Page

Hastings, Napier and Havelock North

These three towns have amongst them the best climate in New Zealand, with hot dry summers and warm winters. These are the favourite areas to retire to. Certainly places we could happily live.

Napier is a port city in Hawke's Bay. It has a population of 58,100. Less than twenty kilometres separate the centres of Hastings City and Napier, and the two are often called “The Twin Cities” or “The Bay Cities”. The population of the urban area of Napier-Hastings is 122,600 which makes Napier-Hastings the fifth largest urban area in the country, closely followed by Tauranga (116,000), and Dunedin (114,900).

European history (Wikipedia)

The first European to see the future site of Napier was Captain James Cook, who sailed down the east coast in October 1769. He commented: “On each side of this bluff head is a low, narrow sand or stone beach, between these beaches and the mainland is a pretty large lake of salt water I suppose.” He said the harbour entrance was at the Westshore end of the shingle beach. The site was subsequently visited and later settled by European traders, whalers and missionaries. By the 1850s, farmers and hotel-keepers arrived.

The Crown purchased the Ahuriri block (including the site of Napier) in 1851. In 1854 Alfred Domett, a future Premier, was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and resident magistrate at Ahuriri. A plan was prepared and the town named after Sir Charles Napier, hero of the Battle of Meeanee in the Indian province of Sindh. Domett named many streets in the settlement to commemorate the great colonial era of the British Indian Empire.

The town was constituted a borough in 1874 and development of the surrounding marsh lands and reclamation proceeded slowly. Between 1852 and 1876 Napier was the administrative centre for the Hawke's Bay Province, but in 1876 the Abolition of Provinces Act dissolved provincial government.

Development was generally confined to the hill and to the port area of Ahuriri. In the early days Napier consisted of an oblong mass of hills (Scinde Island) almost entirely surrounded by water, from which ran out two single spits, one to the north and one to the south. There was a swamp between the now Hastings Street and Wellesley Road and the water extended to Clive Square.

Geography and climate

The town is on the Bluff Hill headland and the surrounding plain at the southeastern edge of Hawke Bay, a large semi-circular bay that dominates the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. The coastline of the town was substantially altered by a large earthquake in 1931. The topography puts Napier in danger from a tsunami, as the centre of the commercial city is near sea level – should the sea ever crest Marine Parade the sea would run through to Ahuriri.

Several smaller towns lie close to the city, the closest is Taradale the location of some of the region’s oldest established wineries. Other surrounding towns include Bay View, to the north, Clive, to the south, Flaxmere, west of Hastings, and Havelock North. As a territorial authority, Napier City is surrounded by the much larger Hastings District.

The town enjoys some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand. The climate is warm and relatively dry resulting from its location on the east coast of the North Island. Most of New Zealand's weather patterns cross the country from the west, and the town lies in the rain shadow of the North Island Volcanic Plateau and surrounding ranges such as the Kaweka Range. However, the town is prone to the remnants of tropical cyclones from the central Pacific Ocean, which occasionally are still at storm strength by the time that they have reached Hawke's Bay. Thunderstorms are not very common in Hawke's Bay with fewer than 10 thunderstorms a year.[citation needed] They are most common in the summer caused by the sometimes extreme surface heating. Hail from thunderstorms can damage vineyards and orchards. The hailstorm of 2 March 1994 created hailstones up to 3 cm in size and caused around NZ$10.8M worth of damage to orchards and vineyards. It remains New Zealand's most costly hailstorm.

1931 earthquake

On 3 February 1931, Napier was levelled by an earthquake. The collapses and ensuing fires killed 256 people. The figure would later rise to 258 as two people were missing, presumed dead following the quake. The town centre was destroyed and rebuilt in the popular Art Deco style of the time. Some 40 km² of today's Napier was undersea before the earthquake raised it.


Napier's major tourist attraction is its architecture, which draws Art Deco and architecture enthusiasts from around the world. The rebuilding period after the 1931 earthquake coincided with the short lived and rapidly changing Art Deco era and the Great Depression, when little “mainstreet” development was being undertaken elsewhere. As a result Napier's architecture is strikingly different from any other city; the other notable Art Deco city, Miami Beach, has Streamline Moderne Art Deco. The whole centre of Napier was rebuilt simultaneously.

Other tourist attractions in Napier include The Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery which features information on both the 1931 earthquake and Napier's redesign as an Art Deco city, the National Aquarium, the Soundshell and the Pania of the Reef statue. The Pania statue on Marine Parade is regarded in Napier in much the same way that the Little Mermaid statue is regarded in Copenhagen. In October 2005 the statue was stolen, but it was recovered a week later, largely unharmed. Marineland was a tourist attraction from 1965 until it closed in 2009. Tourists flock to Napier in February for Art Deco weekend and the Mission Concert Weekend, which has featured Chris De Berg, Olivia Newton-John, Eric Clapton, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart.

Attractions nearby in the Hastings District include the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony and many vineyards bordering Hastings City. The large wine industry hosts the Annual Harvest Hawkes Bay Weekend.

Napier's beaches are stoney, but to the south are some great beaches, Ocean, Cape Kidnappers and Waimarama

See Also: Motorcycle Diaries - Not! and Christmas 2009 Travels to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay

Napier Climate

Napier and Hastings Map

Hastings Website

Napier website

Havelock North Website

A really really nice place to live

Hastings and area property for sale

living_in_new_zealand/where_to_live_out_of_auckland/east_coast.txt · Last modified: 2010/11/10 20:29 by art
CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0