The New Zealand port city of Napier, in the vast Hawke's Bay region on the eastern seaboard of the North Island is like nowhere else on the planet. A big call perhaps, but when you consider that the entire city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and completely rebuilt in the dominant architectural style of the time, Art Deco, Napier is a design time capsule.
It seems around every corner you find yet another striking example of this distinctive building style. You'll see antique emporiums, 1930s vintage cars and enthusiasts pointing and chattering excitedly about architectural details or following guides around town in close formation.
Beyond the city limits is the world-renowned Hawke's Bay wine region where visitors can discover superb Bordeaux-style red wine, making this ornate city quite the tourism gem.
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's second-largest wine-producing region -- behind Marlborough. Take a tour of nearby wineries, or get an education in wine appreciation in Napier's own New Zealand Wine Centre. Otherwise, choose to stroll along the Marine Parade promenade, perhaps with a stop at a seafood restaurant and a visit to the National Aquarium of New Zealand or the art gallery.
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Napier, about 1.5 miles from the city center. It's a working industrial port, so walking from the ship is not possible.
Between the costumed guides leading tours, the classic cars on the streets and the 1930s Art Deco architecture everywhere you turn, you might think you've become a character in "The Great Gatsby." Don't worry -- it's still the 21st century. On a more practical note for U.S. visitors, when crossing the street, remember that New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road.
Currency is the New Zealand dollar. For currency-conversion figures, visit xe.com or oanda.com. ATMs and banks are plentiful throughout town and are usually the cheapest way to get New Zealand dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted.
English, with a distinct Kiwi accent, is the predominant language in Napier and all of New Zealand.
Hawke's Bay wines make the best souvenirs, and specialties include Bordeaux-style reds, shiraz and chardonnay. You can purchase them at the New Zealand Wine Centre on Shakespeare Road or at several grocery stores throughout town. Also, consider a bottle (or three) to enjoy in your cabin (corkage fees may apply). (See airline restrictions on carrying liquids aboard.) For the teetotaller on your list, you can find the softest and warmest clothing and woollens at Opossum World, across the street from the Napier i-SITE Visitor Centre.