Art Deco Centre and beautiful decorative windows
9th – 11th December 2013
The drive up the west coast was spectacular, very rugged, and the sea mist made it look mysterious. It started to rain lightly but it began to clear as we headed east toward our destination.
The rugged west coast, and deep gorges on our way north east to Napier
By the time we reached the lovely city of Palmerston North we were getting peckish so had a snack next to the City Square and its beautiful rose gardens and lake.
City Square with rose garden and lake
We then drove through some deep gorges and huge dense tree-covered hills until we reached the flatter, green sheep country with its “Telly Tubby” hills. Clouds were still threatening, but the weather cleared as we headed east.
Rolling hills on the way to Napier (left) and Tay meets some sheep close up (right)
Tay was amazed at the number of sheep in each paddock, and wanted to get up close to a sheep! We finally found a flock crowded under some trees close to the road, where we were able to stop – and of course we had to have a photo!
By early afternoon we reached Napier, a city that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and was completely rebuilt in keeping with the Art Deco style. I just loved the buildings, my camera went mad snapping each building I came to.
One of the fabulous Art Deco buildings (left), and the Criterion Hotel (right)
Our hotel was right opposite the beach and we walked through the peaceful park with its fountain and statue of Pania of the Reef. The inscription on the statue of Pania reads : “An old Maori legend tells how Pania, lured by the siren voice of the sea people, swam out to meet them. When she endeavoured to return to her lover she was transformed into the reef which now lies beyond the Napier Breakwater. To perpetuate this legend the Thirty Thousand Club presented this statue to the city of Napier.” Read more about the legend of Pania here
Statue of Pania and the Fountain in the park opposite our hotel
We had booked a ride on the Hawkes’s Bay Express, a modern road train custom-designed and splendidly crafted like an old-fashioned steam engine. Our guide gave us his knowledgeable view of what Napier was like before and after the earthquake, and how the city was rebuilt. After driving through the town centre (everybody waves at you!) and learning about the buildings, we set off toward the port via the magnificently restored National Tobacco Company Ltd building, we were even allowed to see inside. The drive around the port showed us the marina, and the busy container depot.
The Hawkes Bay Express ready to take us on our tour (left) and (right) the impressive entrance to the National Tobacco Company Ltd
The spectacular dome inside the National Tobacco Company building (left) and the ornate marble reception area (right)
The busy port and Marina at Napier
After our ride on the Express we walked to the Aquarium, saw a small dinosaur, some Little Penguins and walked through the underwater display of sea life. During that sunny afternoon I (and my camera) took a leisurely stroll around the city centre, again snapping the really beautiful Art Deco buildings. There is an Art Deco Festival each year during the third weekend of February, so if you are a devotee of all things Art deco, this is the place to be.
Tay inside the shark’s jaws (left) and me with a tiny dinosaur model (right) at the Aquarium
I loved Napier and one of my dreams is to be there at one of their Art Deco Festivals! There is even a special shop where you can buy the right gear!
Tomorrow we make tracks for Rotorua.