Napier, The Art Deco City
Trip Start Apr 02, 2012
46Trip End Jul 26, 2012
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So I arrived in Napier on the east coast of the North Island on Monday after a pleasant and almost uneventful 5 hour drive - it would have been 4 hours but they closed the Manawatu Gorge due to land slips, much to my sat-nav's disapproval (she would not shut up! "when possible, turn round!!" I could not! Lady!) I followed the diversion route which took me 100 kilometres high high up in the hills - blimey! it was another case of squeaky bum!
On arrival at my second YHA - I of course have a single room again, but unlike Wellington, my room is smaller than a cell in the stir! I can tell you! However, its not a bad place and the people are nice.
The city of Napier is lovely really, there was a devastating earthquake in 1931 so when they rebuilt the town they used art deco architecture and interiors to wonderful effect
So! As you do, I took a guided tour of the place on Tuesday morning with 2 old English gits and a dear old Australian lady with a stick (she had a bad back, so we had to go at her pace! Doh!). Our guide used to be English but has been here for 50 years! She was excellent, and we learned lots about the architecture and ziagarags, zigzags, neo-classic, streamline moderne (you don't say) speed lines etc etc etc art deco stuff!
I made a friend here called Chiara, an Italian woman fellow traveller who is naked-busing it all over the place. We hung out for 3 days. I even dragged her out the other night for a night-photography session to act as my assistant - it was good fun except Napier is dead after 5pm every day and I mean as dead as a Moa! (I'm in NZ so I can't say Dodo).
On Tuesday, I drove us out along the coast road for loads of K's and stopped at various places along the way to take photos. Great scenery and lots and lots of sheep.
On Wednesday, we strolled nonchalantly on the ever-stretching beach - the sea looks beautifully blue and calm here but underneath its calm exterior is a mean streak and highly dangerous swells apparently. We ended up at the Marine centre where we saw lots of fish and sea creatures - must say, as with most Kiwi touristy stuff, it was done extremely well and very educational
Later that afternoon, a random friend of Chiara's she met somewhere, something to do with her mums friend or something, I don't know! turned up and took us in her car to Cape Kidnappers which is very famous in these parts as there is a Gannet colony there. However, as it was late in the day, the tide was coming in very fast which would have swallowed the beach up, so we could only walk a short way along the beach to the cape before turning back.
Now, I should mention here, that when I first decided to come to NZ I looked on a map and discovered to my utter delight that there is actually a place on the north Island called Clive! Yes Clive!! and I vowed to try to get there if I could and see if they had a "welcome to Clive" sign as you enter the town. Now, you can guess what I'm going to say - There it was! between Napier and Cape Kidnappers!!! (I did know that really). So of course, I asked Emily (the Kiwi) to stop the car and take a pic of me in front of the sign, which she duly did, only to bugger it up, and fail to press the shutter. Never fear, there were other signs there too but without the "welcome" bit.
I was very contented after that! (see photos)
So! back to my poor poor bum! today, I revisited Cape Kidnappers on my own as Chiara left for Rotorua this morning and Emily went back to her mum's last night (God, it's like a soap opera), I stopped on my way back from a coffee in nearby Hastings (the capital of Hawke's Bay - not!) Not a bad place and much bigger than Napier but not nearly as elegant
At Cape Kidnappers I decided to join a tour that takes you to the Cape and the colony on the trailer of a tractor. We started at 1pm and the trip would take 4 hours return but we had to get back before high tide - all very exciting, especially as the tide never really went out!!
That meant that although the tractor driver was a jolly ol' sort and quite a considerate driver, it was a tractor pulling a trailer with 14 punters on board so when we went over rocks, stones and in the sea itself it was blooming bouncy! hence the sore ass!
The rocks and scenery on the way to the cape was really stunning and we got nice explanations and info from the driver. At the cape itself, we had 1.5 hours to climb the hill and visit the last of this seasons gannets before the young fly off to Australia. Unlike the Muriwai colony, these were close to the foot path so photos were much easier. Also we had wonderful views from such high up! Suffice to say that we must be having a very late summer, cos the sun was beating down on us (another burnt conk!). Another truely lovely day.
I forgot to say, that on Wednesday it was ANZAC Day so Chiara and I attended Napier's commemoration at Clive Park (yes you read right!). Have to say they did a great job with it. Pity not more of the townsfolk came out
I have been eating at the Brazen Head, an Irish pub down the road and they do great cheapish food, but tonight I dined in a Tai restaurant and had the best chicken satay starter in years!
Well! tomorrow is my last day here so as this is Hawke's Bay and very much vino country, what else to do but go on a wine tour!! We will be visiting 3-4 wineries, tasting various vintages and nibbling a cheese board (with or without cheese on it, as its the medium-priced tour)......more of this in my next blog!
Hold on! I wrote the above on Thursday night and went to bed before uploading pics, so now this is Friday night and I've done the wine tour and will now load pics! How cool is that??
The wine tour was really good, a minibus picked me up from the iSite place outside my hostel and picked up a couple down the road before heading to the Mission winery outside Hastings somewhere. There were 7 of us all-in-all. The weather again was sunny and bright. To cut a long afternoon short, we visited 3 winery's, had about 20 tastings all told, including that very tasty cheese board at the second one. Throughout the time, our driver/guide explained sites long the way and details of the winery's and wines we tasted along with each winery's own staff.
We were all returned to our respective bases at 5pm to stagger through the rest of the evening. Everyone was very friendly and as merry as me. Although one of the old dears tripped and fell over a kerb and insisted she was sober!!! It was hilarious!
Ok, I did buy a bottle of port (It's my money! What's left of it!) but it was a special one you can't get in the shops! OK!
On Saturday I'm moving on to Gisbourne, still on the east coast (OMG! it's another wine centre!!) and staying 4 nights in another YHA hostel, this time with parking! Yippee!
See you then!