Napier set to talk the walk

By Roger Moroney

Over the next five days it is effectively all hands to the pumps at the Napier Art Deco Centre ... or more accurately, all feet to the pavement.

The first signs that things are building up for the annual Geon Art Deco Weekend are the growing numbers of camera-bearing visitors to town, walking in organised groups and looking with fascination at the buildings locals simply glance at every day.

"We have called in every guide volunteer we can get," Art Deco Walks manager Nicola Pentelow said as she ticked off another "booked out" tour during the height of the big weekend.

"We will have about 60 walking guides working - they all got the call," she said, adding that while the volunteers loved their work she felt bad about asking them to put in so much time during a weekend she wanted them to be part of, socially, as well.

"So we make sure they all get some time to get out and enjoy it for themselves."

Visitor numbers were clearly up in Napier yesterday, with four of the big seafront motels already putting out the "No Vacancy" signs.

Yesterday's tours were also bolstered by the arrival of the cruise ship Dawn Princess.

"We are starting to get big numbers coming through now."

Most tour groups numbered about 30, although at the height of the weekend, despite the extra tours and additional guides, the numbers would swell to about 60.

About 50 walks will be staged during the big weekend.

"They are very popular - and we have had people arrive to say they had been told about them by a friend who visited here and that they 'must' do one."

Over the past few days a number of 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake survivors had called to take a tour. "For the guides that was really special."

Extra volunteers had also been drafted in to work at the Art Deco Centre to cope with the steadily rising number of visitors. Two days are already looking to be possible record-breakers in terms of visitors to the centre.

Joining the thousands of visitors who will already be in the Bay will be about 3500 passengers off two cruise liners: the Sea Princess, due on Friday, and the Oosterdam which is scheduled to arrive on Sunday.

"Yes, you could say it's going to get a little busy," Ms Pentelow said with a smile.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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