Blog Two - Napier
15 May 2018
|Blog Two – Napier
Tuesday 15 May 2018
Up and about packing and making sure we have everything ready to go. A wander down Plimmer Steps to Starbucks to watch the world go by while sipping on a frappe before grabbing a bite from Subway and then we booked out and grabbed a cab to Hertz. We were a bit early but they didn’t mind with our Kia Sportage ready to go! This was a better vehicle than expected and it was a good fit as we are thinking of what vehicle to buy next and a slightly smaller SUV is a possibility.
We ended up leaving a touch before 10:30 and proceeded to head the wrong way first up with Google Maps not doing its job but within five minutes we were on Highway One/Two and heading to Napier. The road started with a very easy drive for the first hour or so before being forced onto country roads due the main way being closed, although no idea why!
This part was more of a driving test with the roads quite windy and hilly for about a third of the way with the last third another easy drive into the Hawke’s Bay area. The weather gradually improved the further north we went and it was the first time we had seen the blue sky since arriving in New Zealand. Apparently the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne areas have the most sunshine and the warmest in New Zealand so we will be looking to make use of the good weather while we are here.
We arrived near our accommodation mid afternoon and with daylight on our side we headed for a winery Ju had picked out the night before – Pask. The person at the cellar door was very nice and the wines were interesting with four labels under the Pask brand. We had a taste of a few and ended up purchasing a bottle of Trilliant Small Batch Merlot Cabernet Malbec. Our requirements now in hand we headed to our accommodation in the rural area of Longlands. We were a bit disappointed with the accommodation with it being a bit tired and missing a couple of items that we would consider as standard and strange not having them. The shower door is an interesting fit, there’s no bin in the bathroom or kitchen but there are bags for the big bin in the nearby garage. There weren’t any tea towels but the owner visited and book these to us. There’s also no kettle so it’s back to the future boiling water on the stove to have a cuppa. The bed is also interesting and appears to be a mix of an ensemble with an aged wooden frame around it that creaks very badly to even the slightest movement like rolling over during the night. It was fairly cheap and it the cheapest we have booked so hopefully it is upwards from here.
Despite all this we did sit out at the outdoor table and consumed our wine and cheeses we purchased at the markets on Sunday morning and took in the rural atmosphere. We are going old school with the TV as well and we settled in for the night watching a few house hunting shows and old shows. The bed however proved to be less than ideal for a good night’s sleep…
Wednesday 16 May 2018
A good night’s sleep alluded Wuzz but Ju’s was a bit better. Oh well we are up on our sleep being able to sleep in to the ridiculous times of 7:00 or even a bit later! Unheard of! Amazing what a little bit less stress and no time table can do.
With a feed of eggs and toast (included the stove water boiled cuppa) we headed out to Te Mata, a mountain with fantastic views over the area. The drive up was written as fairly scary and while it had a lot of twists and turns and was also narrow in places it wasn’t too bad, especially as we were up there nice and early to advantage of the good weather. The view up at the peak was amazing. Full 360 degree views of all the surrounding area including the bay, North Havelock and all the farming land. We took some good shots and took in the views before heading back down and continuing our tour of the area.
We drove further into the Hawke’s Bay area and drove the 30 minutes or so of easy roads to Napier. We visited the Info Centre which was again very good and on their advice we proceeded for a walk along the foreshore path (next to the pebbly beach) and then out to the jetty for a good look around the coast and the town itself, which we then headed towards.
Napier was a victim of a 7.9 earthquake in 1931 and all the buildings have been rebuilt in the art deco style of the times and a lot of them have been kept in this style. Looking at them it could quite easy to image Hercule Poirot walking in or out of one the stores or apartments – Whitehaven Mansions would fit in to the town very easily!
We poked our heads into the museum and they had some great stuff. Too bad we at the limits for our luggage! We wandered the town and had a really pleasant time looking at the architecture and the shops. It is a very pretty town and really well maintained. By this time we were looking for a bite to eat and came across a great café that sold wanderful salads and other healthy foods. We had a fantastic and very healthy lunch before heading off and taking the car for a spin around the town and parking back at the “I” and a quick visit to Starbucks for a frappe and Wuzz’s regular Macadamia Cocoa.
Back in the car we eventually found Bluff Hill Lookout complete with its narrow and windy roads to the top for a view over the bay and port areas. It’s another very nice spot and the weather made it even better. A quick visit to Countdown (the Woolies offshoot in NZ) and we were off to visit another winery in the area. Church Road winery in Taradale was a very pleasant spot and the cellar door staff very nice. We had a very thorough tasting of their multiple labels and wines and settled on a sav blanc – yes a sav blanc. The ones made and sold over here are sooooo much better than the stuff they sell to us in Oz. Not that our mass producers are any better.
The weather had started to close in a few drops were starting to fall so we headed home with our bottle to see if we could rescue the washing we had hung out before we left. Luckily the rain had skirted the Longlands area and our washing was nice and dry – a rarity I suspect in late autumn in NZ! A very light meal was had for dinner with breakfast, lunch and Starbucks on the menu throughout the day. More average TV before another night in the weird-arse bed!
Thursday 17 May 2018
After consuming the great omelette cooked by Ju we headed into the other towns are areas of Hawke’s Bay. We started by driving to Hastings, which is another really well maintained and attractive town, slightly larger than Napier but still with the quite a lot art deco buildings and we loved the street lighting. We wandered around the town looking at the buildings and found a great health shop (Cornicopia) that had a large supply and a large range of health foods and was attached to a very nice café where Wuzz indulged in a coffee and admired the food on offer in the windows. Ju had found some sleep information and made a couple of purchases before we headed off and found the Info Centre where the very helpful person directed us to the Maori carvings (slightly disappointing) and then to view from a distance the opera house which was closed due to renovations. Interestingly Hastings also includes architecture in the Spanish Mission style and the opera house was a good example of this and the only real stand out of the style. We’re not sure why this form of architecture is in Hastings but it is interesting and no doubt related to the necessary rebuilding that had to happen after the 1931 earthquake.
We wanted to try the NZ ice cream as we have been told that it the top of the crop. We were directed to Ross and Munro as it is nearing 100 years in operation so we power walked up the other end of the town and just in time for them to open. It was definitely nice but not the outstanding product we were hoping for. Still it was good and kept us topped up for our next stop – back to Te Mata for a look up the top again but also to go on a bush walk.
The top was filled with people – the down side of coming late. There were a couple of buses full of Seppos and quite a few other people as well. I’m glad we didn’t come across the buses coming up or going down the road! They eventually headed off and we took a few more photos before driving down to the main car park. We went on the Redwood Walk and headed off shortly after helping a couple of Indian overseas students by filling out a survey. The walk was less than well posted with the purple triangle indicating our trial not as ubiquitous as we had hoped and had to guess which way to go a few times – but we were correct at each guess so we didn’t curse too much. Well…. The trial itself was quite demanding in places and led us through two redwood groves, the first being the smaller and the second quite large and opened up into an open grove with large redwoods that covered the skyline and there was very little light coming in. It was almost possible to imagine 13 dwarves, a solitary hobbit and wizard about to come through the trail.
Alas that didn’t happen and we headed onward and in this case upward back to the car park where we had a pit stop with some fruit before heading off in the Sportage to North Havelock to have a wander through the streets. Quite a nice little town befitting the Hawke’s Bay area but with a very different feel to both Hastings and Napier. It is on the yuppy side and type of folk we are likely to see as described by Lonely Planet was wine wives – 50 or so with blonde hair and time to kill. Very funny especially considering we did actually see one or two of these. We had a general stroll around and on seeing what we wanted we had a quick visit to a supermarket and then back home to Longlands to spend time getting organised for our trip tomorrow to Gisborne.
With the packing and other household chores done we settled in with the bar heater on in front of the TV for an easy night. The bed was done for one of us and Wuzz slept on the lounge. There’s only so much a koala can bear! It was the best sleep for both us since we arrived in Hawke’s Bay! Mind you everything is relative!!