Make the I-site office your first stop.
The I-site office should be one of your first stops in Napier. Just across Marine Parade from the iconic A&B Building, the office provides information for free and can help you book tours and accommodation (a small fee usually applies for the latter). There is also a range of souvenirs here and a mini-golf course next door!
If you really want to see Hawke's Bay . . .
. . . take a chance, get lost, drive up and all over Bluff Hill, Central Hill and Hospital Hill, criss cross Scinde Island via Shakespeare Road and others that use the gullies, some truly beautiful examples of old pre earthquake architecture, walk around Ahuriri, especially early morning for the light if you are a photographer. Hospital Hill's Main Street where Corunna Bay was before the earthquake, the oldest settled area in Napier I believe. Check out the Art Galleries. There are a couple of goodies. Drive to Havelock North, find Middle Road and drive south for an hour or . . . especially late afternoon for great photographic light, cross over to Waipawa and drive back to Napier via Fernhill. If you really want to get off the beaten track, drive West and find the Gentle Annie, a true pioneering road. The Esk River Valley has some great spots to explore and the Eskdale Park has good swimming holes. Clive, Poraiati, FernHill, Bridge Pa, all good adventures. Don't forget to take a thermos of tea and some sandwiches or be creative with a picnic lunch. I know the area like the back of my hand, I grew up here before disappearing to Sydney, New York and Venice Beach. Slap on the sunscreen though! Cancer capital of the world I hear.
The Art Deco Weekend
On the third weekend every February, the Art Deco Trust stages New Zealand's "not-too-serious celebration of the Art Deco style". Dress up and join in the hectic round of activities - wining, dining, jazz, dancing, aeroplanes, vintage cars, house tours, walks, picnics and much, much, more. A detailed programme listing the many events is available from 1 October each year.
Art Deco Weekend
Every third weekend in February Napier has it's Annual Art Deco Weekend. People come from all around to join in the festivities. They drive vintage cars, dress in period costumes and wear 1930's jewelry. There is a bi-plane swoop, Deco Architecture tours, and jazz music being preformed live.
I remember walking through Napier a few days before the event. The entire downtown and all it's shops were getting all prepared for the big weekend. Collectable posters were hung all around , store windows had 1930's displays and last minute customers were buying costumes. I also remember seeing vintage cars coming into town. Regrettably I was not able to stay for the weekend,but I did hear glowing reports from locals .Hopefully I can attend an Art Deco Festival in the future..
Hastings: Explore the main streets on foot....
Hastings, though a Spanish Mission style city as well as Art Deco, is much less faithful than Napier to any one style and there are several buildings we noticed in just the 3 streets we explored which were neither style, quite modern, which only made them stand out more oddly amongst their more elegant neighbours.
Hastings as a whole though I found rather delightful and charming, right from the first glimpses we had as we drove in. The tops of all the 1st floor shop verandahs of the 2 storey buildings in the CBD's main central few streets (and possibly others we didn't see) were lined with flower baskets and window boxes, mainly with either pink or purple petunias. It was a riot of colour which brightened a rather dull grey day quite considerably.