Wine country and my first hostel
Trip Start Mar 23, 2009
21Trip End Jun 03, 2009
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Where I stayed
On the bus from Rotorua, I met a Canadian girl about my age, also traveling alone. We started chatting and sharing experiences. She was following an itinerary set up by one of the biggest international hostel chains, YHA, so she had a bed reserved every night and her bus/tours arranged. It wasn't like being on a tour, which is what we both wanted to avoid in our journeys, but it did help frame up her plans. I liked the sound of that and picked her brain on rookie hostel behavior, so when we parted ways at one of the stops, I was ready to head to the Napier YHA and try out dorm accommodations. I called when I arrived in town and booked two nights, for the whopping US$16 per night. That certainly helps the budget (and offset the Hyatt). I decided to stay there and then book the rest of my time in New Zealand through them.
It worked out great since the Napier YHA was a short walk from the bus depot and right across the street from the beach - perfect! I checked in, dropped off my bags and set out to check out the town and beach.
You don't realize that New Zealand's west coast ist he South Pacific Ocean, incredible emerald blue. They have good surfing in the area, but it's getting chilly, so I'm waiting to retest my surfing skills later on down the road in OZ...or just continue to enjoy the surfer views :) I grabbed a coffee and walked the path along the black pebble beach for the afternoon and then around town.
The town of Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in the early 30's, so most of the buildings were rebuilt during the Art Deco period. You can take a guided tour of all the historic buildings, but I felt like I got a pretty good flavor of the Art Deco-ness of the buildings on my own. I may be here to experience as much of each place as possible, but even I don't need a walking tour of everything.
I had dinner with an English girl named Katie, who was staying in our 3 person (all female) dorm room. She had been in Napier for a week following the NZ cricket team. Can't say cricket would be a sport I become a rabid fan of, but she was very friendly and we had a good time. I confessed that it was my first night in a hostel - it's really not that big of a deal but similar to figuring out city buses at 33, I didn't know what to expect. I definitely like the savings, and the rooms and amenities are clean and neat. But I can also say that I will be staying in single rooms in hostels more often than not.
The next morning I continued my relaxation goal at the beach and around town, and then got picked up at 1 p.m. for a winery tour. Five out of the 8 of us on the tour were staying at the YHA, so I met Ben and Sara from London, who were on their 10th month of a Round the World trip (whew - I thought 3 months was a lot!) and Ash and Claire, two Irish girls who are working in Wellington, NZ and were in Napier for the weekend. We all got along well and had a great time with the tour guide, Vince. After the many liberal tastings of Pinto Gris, Savignon Blanc, Pinto Noir, Merlot, Cab Sav's, etc., etc., etc. at each place, I learned a lot more about NZ wines (I think) and resisted buying a case - budget was saved!
I wrapped up the evening by joining Ash and Claire for dinner, and then Ben and Sarah met us at the Irish pub around the corner. As a quiet beach town, Napier closes up pretty early, and after the full winery day, we were back to the hostel by 11. This worked out, because I had a bus ride at 1 p.m. the next day to head to NZ's capital city, Wellington.
Till next time and with pictures!