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As the Art Deco Capital of the world, the beautiful city of Napier is a great place to live and study English. The Ngati Kahungunu iwi have been settled in the region for hundreds of years, and were the first to come into contact with the Europeans when they first arrived in 1769. After a massive earthquake struck in 1931, almost erasing Napier from the map, the CBD and many local houses were rebuilt in the Art Deco fashion that was popular in that time. Napier has become one of the best-preserved Art Deco towns in the world and is named as a World Heritage Site.
These days, Napier is a thriving city built upon tourism and the growing and exporting of grapes, apples, pears and stone fruit. It is the primary export sea port for north-eastern New Zealand, as well as being the largest wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere.
Napier is the perfect combination of city life and a small-town community. The locals are friendly and helpful, so you’ll always have someone of any age to practise your English with. The Napier library is just across the road from New Horizon College of English, and the school is close to Marine Parade and Clive Square – great places to take a walk or enjoy lunch outside.
Take time to explore and examine the Art Deco buildings around the city – Napier’s most popular tourist attraction and a great example of history, architecture, and the tenacity and resilience of the people. Brightly painted, intricately decorated and maintained to a high standard, they house all sorts of businesses, cafes, restaurants and retail stores. Visit the Art Deco Trust Centre for more information and to view a short film about the earthquake and how Napier was rebuilt in just 22 months.
Marine Parade is spectacular all year round. A tree-lined boulevard that runs parallel to the ocean, it has a number of gardens, fountains and statues, making it a great place to run, walk, stroll or explore.
One of the favourite statues on the Parade and the most photographed attraction in New Zealand is Pania of the Reef. This bronze figurine is of a woman called Pania who was the sea maiden featured in the Legend of Pania.
Cape Kidnappers is a beautiful headland, home to a golf course and a number of walking tracks. Two world famous Gannet colonies reside in a reserve here, with the Black Reef colony able to be viewed from the beach.
Visit one of the best aquariums in New Zealand to see sharks, stingrays, fish, living coral, kiwi, tuatara, and more in wonderful exhibits and natural habitats. If you have an interest in aquarium and sea life, volunteers are always welcome to join and learn. Because Napier sits right on the coastline, the wonderful beach is perfect for surfing, sailing, swimming or kite surfing – a paradise for any water sport lover.
Mission Estate Winery is the country’s oldest winery and is free to tour and take a historic walk through the vineyards and cellar door. Have a meal at the restaurant or if you’re over 18 years old, try some of the wines available for testing.
Are you looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours with your friends? Laserforce is a high-tech laser tag emporium, great for any number of people and any age participant. With fog, space suits and music, there’ll be excitement and thrills the whole time you’re there.
Located on Marine Parade, the Napier Soundshell is a music and performance venue owned and run by a community organisation. There are always great shows and music performances -, whether it’s an Art Deco event, summer concert, jazz ensemble, orchestra, singer, or Christmas show. Its unique shape and appearance makes it a treat for both the eyes and the years.
Have you visited Napier or are you studying English there? Tell us about your favourite experiences!