National Tobacco Company building, Napier - lovely art deco inside and out.
Left Rotorua for the Napier area, driving across from Taupo on Route 5. This is a very scenic but windy road across the top of the mountains. Whilst it is a lovely trip, we have one word of advice - make sure you fill up with petrol in Taupo because there are not petrol stations between there and Bay View at the other end of the road!! We spent some very stressful moments wondering if we were going to run out, because the guage seemed to drop quite quickly along this road. Had our picnic lunch on the beach at Napier (a pebble beach) and then bought ourselves a $4 self-guided art deco walk to do.
Napier was badly damaged by an earthquake in the 1930's and was re-built mostly in art deco style - it is said to be the most intact art deco city in the world, and is absolutely fabulous. The houses and shops are really interesting and attractive, and the guide tells you all about them as you go. The Art Deco Shop (in the old art deco fire station!) is the starting point, where you watch a 20min DVD about the history of the buildings whilst enjoying complimentary tea/coffee/water, and you head off from there, taking your own time. The tour took us about 2 hours and we really enjoyed it - Napier is a beautiful city, now on our list of places to live in the future!
We started the next day with a self-guided walk of the Spanish-mission-style buildings in Havelock, which also suffered during the earthquake.
Bronze "mermaid" in Napier - the whole statue was stolen at one point but then returned because too hard to offload.
Nice buildings, but the brochure is nowhere near as good as the Napier one. The best building here is the Hawkes Bay Opera House, but you can't get in unless there's something on. Apparently the interior is incredible. In the afternoon, we hopped on a trailer behind a tractor and rode out the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers! The driver gave a good commentary as we went, and then we walked up to the colony to see the birds - it was a steep climb, but fantastic views from the top. Reckon this is one of the best value things we've done so far ($33pp) but a good 4 hours of enjoyment, including a dip in the ocean (where a rogue wave stole my magnetic-hold sunglasses - not going to live the replacement cost down in a hurry!). The Cape is called Cape Kidnappers, because the local Maoris tried to abduct a Tahitian crewman from Captain Cook's expedition (they got him back unharmed!).
Garden walk along the beach, Napier.
We stopped at the Te Mata Cheese Company on the way back to our holiday park, but once again pretty ordinary. The cheese companies here don't seem to do much with the opportunities they have to get people in.
Our last day was winery-inspired - first stop Mission Estate, the oldest winery in New Zealand. The lovely old house was originally a seminary, and was actually moved to this site from lower ground in 1905 after a major flood. They cut it into pieces and dragged it up the hill! The wines were very nice and reasonably priced, too, so we bought a couple of bottles. We then went just back down the road to Church Road Winery, part of the Pernod-Ricard group. We were the only 2 on the tour ($12pp) which was great, because got to have a good chat with the lady and she didn't have to explain things we already understood.
Feeding time at the gannet colony, Cape Kidnappers.
At the end, we even got tastings of the special wines they normally charged for so she must have liked us! We also had lunch here - beautiful food in a lovely garden setting, and large serves so rolled away most impressed. We then went into Napier so that Noel could go to the Opossum Shop. Possums are a major problem here so every opportunity to use them in a useful way is taken. The shop has a shooting gallery where you can pretend to shoot the possums - Noel got 26 in one minute so was pretty pleased with himself! We also visited teh Museum ($7.50pp) which was quite small, but had some interesting Maori stuff along with a good display about the earthquake. Also drove out to see the National Tobacco Company building, a fine example of art deco architecture. You can actually go into the old foyer, which has been restored, so can also see an interior. Afterwards we drove up to the top of Te Mata Peak (near our holiday park) from where you get incredible views of the whole area.