3 (long) weeks in Napier Prison.

After a good 10 days in Coromandel, I headed down towards Hawke’s Bay and settled in Napier for my next leg of adventure. While I was planning my NZ travels back at home last December, I was surfing Backpacker Board website and an advert calling out for travellers looking for an adventure jumped out at me.

  • Reception work/cash handling – uhm, okay.
  • Travel writing work – YES!
  • Accommodation in, historic but haunted, Napier prison – YES, WHY NOT!

So here I was standing in front of “the gateway to hell” with my suitcase.


Living in a 5m by 2m prison cell in the Women’s Wing of the prison was quite nerve wrecking. Especially after knowing that, I might be sleeping on the same bed as a women nurse who was convicted for handling abortions illegally. When her house was raided nearly 22 foetuses were found buried in her backyard. Gosh! It definitely took me a while to get used to the general vibe, or should I say, eeriness of the place and dark hall ways after sunset. It was otherwise a warm welcome, thanks to my fellow prisoners!

There are two main things Napier is known for. The first being the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake that hit Napier pretty bad. Napier prison, fortunately or not, was the only place in Napier that survived the earthquake. In fact, when in Napier prison, you will be able to see the effects of the earthquake while you walk through a particular corridor – fondly known as “The Earthquake Corridor”. The second – ART DECO! It is no surprise that people flock down to Napier, the capital city for Art Deco, from Auckland and Wellington and even elsewhere, just for the weekend.

And, the good news for me was that Art Deco Weekend was right smack in the middle of my 3 weeks “jail term” in Napier! Vintage car parades, fashion shows, steam train rides, great Gatsby style picnics, soap box derby and so much more. Napier was just bustling with so much action! It’s THE event of the year in Napier and possibly, the only time stores are open past 5pm and when liquor ban in public areas gets lifted. How awesome is that!

Allow me to let the photos do the rest of the talking.



All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.


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