Auckland sisters Barbara Clent and Heather Roper have "been there, done that" when it comes to the dressing up in their vintage finery for Art Deco Weekend in Napier.

But while they no longer flail the brollies, scarves and finery of the Art Deco era it doesn't stop them enjoying and coming back every now and then with their husbands to watch and mix-in with the revelry, and do what they love even more about Napier. "Shopping!", they say, in unison.

The two couples were among about 200 people in the pop-up New Zealand Motor Caravan Association Art Deco Week park on Marine Parade as it started to fill yesterday, a 100-vehicle milestone being passed about noon on Wednesday, with the fleet expected to double by the time the festivities fire up in earnest tomorrow.

Clent and Roper, living retirement to the full with respective husbands Murray and David, say the Napier shopping has much more to offer as they zero-in on their purchases: "Clothes!"


Clent said: "We've had to trade wardrobe space with our husbands."

Relaxing in the folding camp chairs, they would have preferred a beach front view but are unperturbed by having to face Marine Parade, where heavy traffic has for years got up the nose of locals and accommodation hosts on the other side of the road.

"This is fantastic," says Roper. Enjoying the shade, effectively setting the scene for the exuberance of the "Deco" weekend, Clent wonders how it could be anything else but fantastic.

Camp custodian Tony Pye said the visitors pay $10 a night for their sites, half of which goes to charity — volunteer food providers Nourished for Nil and Bellyful.

The park outgrew its former site at Napier Boys' High, especially with many in the city for more days than just those of the festival, and is in its third year on the parade, expecting to exceed last year's fleet of about 180 vehicles, on a first-in-first-served basis with the only site limit being that for logistic reasons bigger homes are on the seafront side.

Napier City Council provides rubbish and recycling disposal facilities, and a shuttle bus service to Art Deco events, for a type of visitor who spends $500-$600 in Napier during the average Art Deco stay, according to surveys.

The atmosphere for the 31st Festival, which started as Art Deco Weekend, was increasingly vibrant in Napier today, including dozens in the period wear on Art Deco Trust walks viewing the period architecture in the inner city ahead of a packed weekend programme focusing on fashion, theatre and street life from the Art Deco era which surrounded Napier's rebirth following the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.