Napier – Art Deco Airport of the world?

The tobacco building

The best Art Deco building in Napier, built by a tobacco company. WARNING: Smoking may have improved Napier’s economic health

Ahuriri Hawke’s Bay Airport (Napier) owes its existence to the major earthquake of 1931 which raised the seabed by about two metres. The earthquake also provided an opportunity to redevelop the flattened town as Art Deco Capital of the World.

Napier scores top honours for that title on a Google search (New York comes a feeble second). The rebuilt central city is compact and easy to get around. You’ll find a satisfying variety of accommodation and dining choices in and around the town, and a moderately active nightlife between Friday and Sunday. An annual highlight is Art Deco Week in February, when locals and visitors dress up in costumes of the 20s, 30s and 40s – stretching the Art Deco concept more than a little. But it’s enormous fun, and vintage car enthusiasts are always guaranteed a feast of ancient and remarkable autos on Marine Parade. On most Sundays, there is a market on Marine Parade, which you might wish to avoid.

The airport at Hawke’s Bay was originally called Beacons Aerodrome after the maritime beacons, parts of which still remain north of the field. “The new Ford V8” taxi arrives with passengers for a waiting Union Airways DH86, parked beside the old city tramcar that served as a terminal, way back in 1938

The airport has seen much development in recent years, including a new control tower, terminal building, runway extensions and air ambulance base. Rental cars and taxis are available at the terminal. Air Napier, the local training and charter operator, is next to the terminal. It offers aircraft parking and fuel facilities, and welcomes visitors.

The Napier Aero Club was formed in 1930. Today, it functions only as a social club and promotes the annual Art Deco Fly-in. There are almost no private light aircraft based at Napier, following the removal of private hangars to make way for a new access road.

HBMC Napier EQ

A couple hold tight, after the 1931 Napier earthquake.

Hawke’s Bay Airport is well worth a flying visit (check the taxi fares from Hastings to Napier if in doubt) and you’ll find Napier’s air traffic controllers friendly and helpful. Watch out for afternoon sea breezes; small birds can be a problem, particularly on the 16/34 grass strip. ATC will usually accommodate your request for a sealed runway departure.

Check our Safety and Ops Info page for new and useful stuff that might not feature on the Notams.

Microlight Club contact: Ken McKee on 06 843 0327 and 027 249 7165

Landing fee: $10 inc GST, plus Airways fee for ATC. For more information:

Taxi: Available at the terminal during scheduled flight times. Otherwise, call HB Combined Taxis on 06 835 7777 (0800 027 437)

Visitor information: Napier i-Site and Hawke’s Bay Airport

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