On 3 February 1931 the area of Hawke’s Bay was struck by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that leveled the city of Napier and killed 236 people. It remains New Zealand’s worst natural disaster. The city was rebuilt using new building codes and since most of the structures were designed and built during the 1930s Napier is considered to be one of the finest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world.
We started at the museum for an overview of the disaster including some harrowing videos of first-person accounts of the earthquake and the horror of the immediate aftermath and the long-term emotional effects. Then we took off on a self-guided tour of some of the notable buildings. It was a clear and sunny day, perfect for exploring a quiet, charming town and in true Schulz style we made frequent cafe stops along the way.
Hawke’s Bay is a big wide open body of water compared to the protected, island-studded Hauraki Gulf and we were glad we visited on land instead of by boat. Still, you can’t deny the beauty of that endless beach.