Tuesday, 27th November – Napier

Beautiful bright sunny day – at least to start with…..

Went to the Art Deco Centre, a 5-minute stroll from our hotel, to start our guided walk around probably the best-known area of Napier. Before that, we watched a video describing Napier before and after the huge 1931 earthquake which killed nearly 300 people and destroyed much of central Napier. Neighbouring Hastings was badly affected too, but not quite as much. Much of the damage was caused by the seafront of the time rising by over 2 metres during a 3-minute earthquake, draining the sea away to the east and creating a vast new area of “land” on which much of the modern promenade has now been built. The difference between “before” and “after” maps of both the terrain and the town was absolutely extraordinary.

This acted as a sobering reminder of how susceptible this area is to earthquakes and other seismic events. On the other side of the coin, it also provides evidence of the triumph of the human spirit. The centre of town was built in the style of the time in about 2 years – a truly remarkable achievement given the devastation that occurred.

The walk itself was interesting, for me mainly from the historical perspective (I will be the first to admit that the nuances of building design leave me rather cold), but others in our party, including Jean, enjoyed the architectural aspects and all the art deco twiddles. Our guide, Sue, was a real enthusiast, and lent much to the experience.

The most photographed building in Napier, apparently….. Me neither.
They like their old cars, too, and use them in tours of the town.

We were then collected by minibus to go on to a winery tour, much more my bag than Jean’s, but we were also able to see some of the spectacular scenery around here. The following pictures are from Te Mata, a local viewpoint.

We then visited three wineries in all, with rain now beginning to fall. Ended up with a bottle of fizz, a port-style dessert wine and a nice Syrah (Shiraz). Most enjoyable, particularly as there were only 5 of us in total (4 Brits, 1 Swiss – all good company).

Another nice, if not exactly sensational, meal in the hotel, before another earlyish night. It’s a 4-hour journey to Wellington tomorrow, our last destination in North Island before we take the ferry to South Island on Friday.

Are we going to visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand tomorrow on our way, as it’s on the marina here in Napier? We’ll see…..

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