Art, minus the Deco

While Napier is known for its Art Deco architecture, Andy and I discovered a less expected form of art during our Easter visit. Places like Dunedin widely advertise their amazing street art, but we had no idea the Hawke’s Bay boasted so many hidden gems. Maybe its just that this fabulous area is understated in general, more humble about its offerings than many tourist destinations.

We had our first glimpse of some epic murals when wandering around Ahuriri, but it wasn’t until we headed into central Napier the next day that we realized there something around almost every corner. Of course, I had to grab my camera!


‘Long May You Live’ by Celeste Byers

Much of it had a nautical theme or depicted native birds. I love that a good portion of NZ street art has a similar message – don’t forget what’s important in this fragile ecosystem we inhabit. Kiwis have a deep love for the land, and it’s not a surprise this shows up in many different ways.

While writing this blog, I discovered that much of the art we encountered was done in 2016 as part of Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, to raise awareness around the plight of our big blue back yard.

This next one, ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone,’ was painted in honor of two endangered sea birds, the fairy tern/tara-iti and Chatham Island taiko.


Some side streets even had art on multiple surfaces. I love this funky sea dragon!




On the same row of buildings, there was a tui vs. moth battle going on.


The colors on the tui are stunning.


Across the same street, it looks as if Dr. Seuss stopped by.


Every work of art was spectacular in its own way, but I was left speechless by this next one.


To give you an idea of scale, here’s a photo taken further back. This gorgeous woman must be 30 feet tall, reigning over the carpark beneath her.


Of course, we can’t forget the artwork covering Napier Aquarium itself, which was also done in 2016.




Even the hot pools had artwork outside.


Yaaas seal queen.

Back in Ahuriri, on our last evening in town, we set out to see some more murals. By this I mean I set out with my camera, dragging Andy along.

This one was just down the street from our cottage.


You may notice a bit of a whale theme here. They are the kings of the ocean, after all.



Old warehouses provide a perfect canvas for huge works of art, right amongst the popular seaside bars and cafes.




The intensely colorful ones, like this next bird, had to be my favorites (second only to the ethereal underwater lady).


Oh look, another whale! Andy spotted this one from afar and kindly pointed it out to me.


And I can’t leave out this behind-the-scenes shot of my trusty, patient companion, who is glad it’s finally time to head back for Thai takeaway.


Ok, just a couple more!



There are countless more spots we missed, I’m sure, but it was incredible to see such beautiful works of art all around Napier. The unexpected treats are always the best!

One more blog to come on Art Deco WITH the Deco. See you soon. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Art, minus the Deco

  1. You’ve given us so many natural and man-made reasons to go to Napier. Plus the Hawke’s Bay wineries, of course. You’ve captured the town and it’s delights so well in your photos and prose.


  2. Wow, what a treat to find all those amazing murals. Glad you took such a good number of photos. Very, very cool. Just one question: Is that seagull pooping out a can?


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