Marine Parade is worth the walk down and back again. Lots of gardens, fountains, memorials and scullptures line both sides. Oh, and of course there's the goregeous blue sea also!
My favourite statue is Pania, a Maori girl (at the northern end of the Parade).
From the tourist information centre you can procure a book that guides you around the significant architecture.
Highlights of the walk include St John's Cathedral, with 13 contemporary stained glass windows and a specially designed Maori chapel. The first cathedral was built on the site in 1886 and was destroyed when the 1931 earthquake hit while communion was being served — with the loss of only one life. A "temporary" cathedral was used for 25 years before the current one was completed in the 1960s. It incorporates some of the features of the original cathedral and you can take a free guided tour between 10am and 2pm during holiday periods.
Other fine examples of art deco — there are more than 90 on the map — include the Municipal Theatre, with its Egyptian influence, the Hotel Central on Emerson Street (now home to a strip club and massage parlour) and the oddly-shaped Kidson's Building opposite it.
Pania of the Reef, Napier Duck inside the ASB Bank on Emerson Street, and look up to see the wonderful red, white and black Maori motifs on the ceiling. This is renowned as New Zealand's finest example of Maori carving and kowhaiwhai (rafter) patterns on a European-style building and is one of four Napier buildings with Maori motifs.
The Six Sisters is the name given to a group of 6 brightly coloured wooden 2 storey buildings on Marine Parade.
Each one is something different - one is a gift/art gallery/boutique, another is a business, a couple are restaurants, and one seems to be a private house.
Marine Parade, as the name suggests, runs along the sea front. The area is very nice.
The fountain here, we only saw in the day time, but at night it is lit, I think in different colours.
THE NEW NAPIER ARCH (1938) commemorates the rebuilding of the city, is not very new any more! There is a colonnade, with two smaller arches, the Veronica Sunbay built in 1934 in the Classic Revival Style. The plaza itself was once used as a skating rink and there is the sound shell.
It is here, where you will find the Visitor information centre.
Marine Parade is Napier's premier avenue. On the seaward side of the road are the sunken gardens with a delightful fountain (that is well lit at night), flower beds, a beautiful green lawn, the curious sound shell, and of course the coastal walk that goes for kilometres to the south, beyond the city gardens. Marine Parade is a wonderful place to stroll on a sunny Hawkes Bay day.
Situated on this road are other key places of interest to tourists. These include: the I-site office (the first stop for information for all travellers); Marineland; the National Aquarium. Napier Museum is opposite the fountain on the city side of Marine Parade.
The story of these gardens begins with the need to keep the sea from running down into the town.
In 1887-88 a new permanent sea wall was built to replace an unsatisfactory wooden one. The 'new' wall is still there today. (The low round-topped wall dividing the gardens from the Marine Parade footpath and road way).
Prior to the 1931 earthquake the shingle beach came right up to the wall.
The tectonic plate movement which caused the earthquake raised the beachfront up by two metres resulting in a greatly enlarged area of shingle above high tide level.
Mr J S Barton, the Government Commissioner appointed to oversee the restoration of Napier, asked Charles Corner, the superintendent of Parks and Reserves, if the rubble from the Central City could be used in beach reclamation. When Mr Corner replied, "Yes" the Commissioner said, "Get on with the job. If I am not satisfied I will let you know". He must have been satisfied because a stretch of beach from the current Marine Parade Saltwater Baths down to the Marine Parade Children's Playground, (south of Marineland), was levelled using horse drawn scoops and the rubble of the pre-quake city was tipped and covered with clay and soil.
Promoters of Napier as a tourist attraction, long had visions of a line of 'promenade gardens' in the European style, and the way was now open for the realisation of these dreams. This was the time of the Depression and money was scarce, but government subsidised work relief provided labour for a public improvement such as this.
Retaining walls along the beach enabled the gardens and lawns to occupy a long, raised terrace terminating at the southern end in the Soundshell.
In 1936 a substantial concrete sea wall with a walkway on the top was built from the Soundshell south to Raffles Street. The way in which the beach has since built up can be seen if you stand by the 'Tui' anchor, mounted on the walkway near the Sunken Garden. In 1938, you needed to descend a flight of eleven concrete steps to get from the walkway onto the beach.
Though Napier is not the first city to see the morning sun (see: East Cape's Gisborne) it is one of the earliest and the art work in the picture captures the location of the site of the first in this millennium.
Located in Napier's on the Marine Parade the subtle yet intriguing art work overlooks the Pacific and Cape Kidnappers. The stone in the middle declares the purpose and many can be seen sitting shore side of it to watch the sun rise.
The ideal place in Napier for a picnic, the Millennium art work is romantic as well as a great place to take the family. Kids seem to love the idea of being on of the first people to see the sun in the morning, and if you draw a straight line from the middle of the rock through the exact middle of the arch you can watch the mirror as the sun reflects off your face.
Marine Parade isn't only a nice place to stroll in the daytime. At night the fountain, sound shell and buildings on the landward side of the road are brilliantly lit up. This is the A & B Building (with the clock tower) and the Masonic Building, which houses a hostel and two restaurants/bars.
When we were there in April 2006, there was a band playing in the sound shell. The lead singer was doing well-known covers and he was really good. It was a shame there were only a handful of people to listen to him!
Not just fish & sharks...there's also a Tuatara enclosure (but we didn't see anything as it was being gardened)
We got to see some of the sharks being fed by divers in their fibreglass tunnel, which we hadn't seen before in other aquariums, so that was also good.
Best of all for us, a Kiwi house where the infra red lights are not too dim, and you can actually make out more than just the shape of the bird..... there were 2 of them, and 1 was very active in foraging and approached right up to the glass like we weren't even there. It was great.
Marine Parade's park can occupy you for some time if you care to take the time.
There are lots of the bleeding obvious and, tucked away in quiet corners, the not-so-obvious such as this waterwheel and other fountains other than the gorgeous standout in the previous tip.
Marine Parade is the long boulevard style road that runs along between the foreshore of the beach and the town area. The street is lined with trees and can be a pleasant place to stroll along.
The main area people go to is the little park (featured in some of the pics below) where open air concerts can be held. There is a fountain that is lit up at night.
There are a few family activities along Marine Parade, such as the Aqauarium and the Ocean Spa - outdoor baths. The information centre is also located next to the park.
Situated on Napier's Marine Parade, this sculpture by Frank Szirmaw represents the confidence of the city in the years immediately following the devastating l931 earthquake.