3rd June, 2013
4th June, 2013
5th June, 2013
6th June, 2013

Monday 3rd June, 2013

Drop Cap leisurely start from Taupo this morning as we loaded up the car and headed for Napier. This is not very far, really, only 146 kms, so we were here by lunchtime.

Opato Falls photograph

Opato Falls en route to Napier

Drop Cap n the way we passed a sign for a scenic lookout and, although not seeing anything particularly scenic among the pineforests we decided to take a look. To our surprise and delight there was a fantastic view of a wonderful waterfall, Otapo Falls, I think. It was well worth a short detour. We met a cheerful Kiwi family in a mobile home there, and although comparative locals, it was a surprise to them, too.

A bit further on we stopped for coffee at a very remote oasis, a roadhouse and picnic area, which had great coffee and was geared for lots of snacks, sandwiches, pies, cakes etc. Very good coffee, surprisingly, so a good pitstop.

En Route to Napier photograph

Scenery En Route to Napier

Drop Cap he scenery from here to the coast was wonderful - forests (commercial) of radiata pine, hills and gorges, valleys, all seeming incredibly remote but really in your face beautiful. Not really as remote as it seemed, there were logging operations, farms, even adventure resorts, it just was remarkably empty.

Drop Cap e started passing wineries as we hit the coast, Hawkes Bay is a well-known wine producing area, also fruit, olives and the usual sheep and cows. We got to Napier at about midday and went up to locate the house. There were people there so I guess it was being serviced. We went down (the house is on a hill, The Bluff) to find the I-site to get some brochures and info and also lunch, which we did at a coffee shop called Two Fat Lattes which I think is a cute name. Did some supermarket shopping and went back to the house.

 Midsummer Cottage photograph

Mac and Geoff at Midsummer Cottage Napier

Drop Cap t is quite an old house, timber with a parking place inset into the garden, luckily, the parking is quite restricted on our narrow winding hill. The house has three bedrooms so Geoff gets a double bed too, a lovely lounge, separate dining room and well equipped kitchen. The owners had left a bottle of red wine and a packet of jam tarts in there for us. Nice touch.

Midsummer Cottage photograph

Midsummer Cottage Napier

Drop Cap he bathroom and toilet are in the back of the house with a step down to the kitchen and another step down to the bathroom etc. Traps for the unwary. Mac has nearly fallen down one of them twice so has put one of the dining chairs on the step so he will notice the step is there. But it is very nicely decorated and should do us well. And the shower certainly looks more enthusiastic than the one at Taupo (our only real criticism).

I don't really know what to do here but I suppose we'll find something. Tomorrow we will walk around the Art Deco area and see what there is to see. My knee is still complaining, only 2.3km on the pedometer today.

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Tuesday 4th June, 2013

Napier photograph

Music Shell, Marine Parade, Napier

Drop Cap e had another leisurely start today - the shower is good so we all enjoyed one.
We drove down to see some Art Deco sights, parking on the Marine Parade and walking to the Art Deco centre, mostly a shop selling 1930's style clothes and bric a brac. It also had a small theatrette showing a film about the earthquake in 1931 which devastated the port and CBD of Napier.

Napier Art Deco photograph

Art Deco in Napier

Drop Cap t was really horribly fascinating, one day in February the town was out enjoying the sun and the last day of the school summer holidays, next day, the earthquake. Hundreds were killed and most of the brick and stone buildings crumbled and then caught fire from ruptured gas lines etc. The amazing thing is that some timber buildings survived, I imagine because timber tends to flex while stone and bricks don't. Anyway, they rebuilt the centre of the city within two years, the most major public project in the country. Since it was at the height of the Great Depression, men came from all over the country to get the work. They also made sure that the new buildings were as earthquake proof as is possible. I found it interesting also that they disbanded Napier Town Council and left the reconstruction in the hands of two competent men. I imagine if they had left it to council they would still be arguing about it today! It pointed up a similarity with Darwin after Cyclone Tracy. They shipped out the territorians with their relaxed attitude to everything and put the reconstruction in the hands of a military leader, whose workforce all wanted to get back to the south, so the rebuilding of Darwin happened in good time as well.

Napier Cathedral photograph

Napier Cathedral

Drop Cap e bought a self-guided walking tour folder and set off. I thought an official one or two hour guided tour would be too tough on my knee and I thought I would hold them up. So we went walking. We did not attempt to see the lot, there are very many buildings on the trail but we saw and identified quite a number. The lovely Cathedral was the one which replaced the original pre-earthquake version and was austere and beautiful. We had morning tea while we were out but, when it started to rain, decided to come home and make chicken sandwiches (left from last night's meal) for lunch. So we did, and very nice too.

Napier Renovations photograph

Napier Renovations

Drop Cap n the way home we passed a rebuilding site which seemed to be keeping the facade while demolishing the actual building. The earthquake could not have done better!
A rest for a while to see if the rain clears then we will go up to the top of our bluff to see the views. We feel quite high here but look out on to a very high cliff with houses perched on top. Given the landslide in Wellington on Saturday I might feel a little insecure up there. All the houses along this way are timber constructed and look like they predate the earthquake. Timber is good.

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Wednesday 5th June, 2013

Faraday Centre  photograph

Faraday Centre Napier

Drop Cap t was still damp and raining off and on today so we thought we would have an indoors day. Accordingly we went first to the Faraday Centre, a museum of science and technology, very well maintained by volunteers and showing all sorts of things from a Tesla Coil making spectacular lightning to old household gadgets and from enormous machines which did everything from generate electricity to make bolts for the ends of bicycle spokes.

Faraday Centre photograph

Faraday Centre

Drop Cap hey had a large lighting board from the municipal theatre, bells from the destroyed Napier Cathedral which the class of maybe eight year olds from a local school enjoyed belting with mallets, a water wheel and various household goods from kerosene stoves to blue bags. These museums are always interesting, if only so you can look and say "We had one of those!" As it happened Mac and I still have some, like planes and other tools and an old mincing machine.

Trainworld Napier photograph

One of the many layouts at Trainworld Napier

Drop Cap e left for morning tea, then moved on to Trainworld, a large exhibit of model railways with several layouts in various gauges, complete with the usual European style scenery. The exhibit was upstairs so we spent some time there. It took one such an effort to get up there it had to be worth it and I also browsed the second hand bookshop which shared the premises and bought a $2 Jeffrey Archer thriller (for when I have finished my current book).

Port of Napier photograph

Port of Napier from The Bluff

Drop Cap fter lunch we drove up to the Bluff Lookout since we had not been the day before. This overlooks both the busy port of Napier and the city. The view is really spectacular, even on a dull and freezing day. There were a couple of ships in, one being unloaded of containers and the other being loaded with logs. There was a pile of woodchips like a small mountain and, as usual, I deplored this. Still, I suppose that is what they grow the pine trees for.

Napier from the Bluff photograph

Napier from the Bluff

Drop Cap e came home and had a rest before going out to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant, Trattoria alla Toscana. This is a very attractive and well served place, the menu was diverse enough without being encyclopaedic or too stereotyped. Mac had osso buco and tiramisu, Geoff had seafood risotto and tiramisu and I had grilled fillet steak with green peppercorns and steamed vegies (plus potatoes baked with rosemary) and a lovely poached pear with cinnamon stick and star anise with a scoop of vanilla gelato. Yummy. We shared a bottle of rose from a local Hawkes Bay winery and finished with coffee. I had expresso, and Geoff added a limoncello liqueur. All up it was a lovely night and Geoff shouted us, so that was nice too.

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Thursday 6th June, 2013

Drop Cap ac and I had a little excursion today because Geoff wanted to go to town to find an internet café, look at a games shop etc. So we dropped him in town and drove off to discover pastures new. We headed first for Hastings, the second largest town in Hawkes Bay , not very far away, then drove through onto quite rural roads and lovely green rolling hills reminiscent of England. We took chicken sandwiches with us and bought a bottle of diet coke and had a picnic lunch in the car (it is still raining on and off although there were blue patches and rainbows from time to time.) It was lovely scenery, sheep, cattle and vineyards all along the way.

Drop Cap n the way home we found the Silky Oak Chocolate Factory, shop, museum and café, so, despite our good WW intentions, we called in. The museum was very good, well done and very interesting, beginning with the Olmecs and going on to the Maya and the Aztecs etc. The growth of chocolate into Europe was quite astounding since they didn't add milk or sugar to it, it must have been terribly bitter, like coffee only more so. But when they began adding these things it really took off. We watched the chocolate maker in the factory for a while and I bought six assorted dark chocolates for special meal endings.

Drop Cap hen we went back to town and picked up Geoff before heading home. My knee is getting worse all the time, it is so depressing, especially with the rain as well. All I can think about is going home. I hate myself! We had dinner at a cavernous bar and restaurant on the waterfront called the Gin Trap. Quite good. Geoff had a very large meal of honey glazed pork ribs, Mac had crumbed calamari and I had scallops on a bed of potato rosti and salami and I ordered a green side salad which Mac and I shared.

Not a good night sleeping again. This is really getting worrying.

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