Monday, April 28, 2008

The Big Trip: Napier

[Check the January and February archives for previous posts on The Big Trip]

Oh my!

I knew I was slacking on writing up our cruise but here it is almost May and I haven’t gotten beyond our first port of call, Tauranga!

Here’s the scoop on Napier:

The town was flattened by an earthquake in 1931, one so intense it actually elevated the surrounding swampland and thereby tripled or quadrupled the town’s growing room. The ambitious locals decide to rebuild in the “modern style,” namely Art Deco, and now Napier boasts the largest collection of Art Deco buildings of any city in the world.

We did the Art Deco tour, which included (1) a visit to the Art Deco museum, with a gift shop and a film about the earthquake and the rebuilding afterwards, (2) a coach ride to a close-in residential neighborhood with a perfectly restored Late Deco house and a visit to the really exquisite National Tobacco Company building over by the port, (3) a walking tour of the Central Business District (CBD), which boasts more than 100 Art Deco buildings from the 1930s, and (4) tea and scones at the beautifully maintained Hawke’s Bay Club, a former gentleman's club dating back to the 1800s.

After the tour we had lunch at a downtown café and then strolled down the lovely Marine Parade, with beautiful views up and down the coast, to the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The aquarium was nice but not very impressive compared to those we have seen in the States.

Glorious weather, too, as I recall. Sunny but windy and a bit brisk. “But we’re going South,” Naoyuki said. To which I replied, “Yes, towards Antarctica, silly!”

As with Tauranga (and all the other cities we visited in New Zealand) Naoyuki and I were incredibly impressed with the city and its people. Ultra clean, very efficient, very helpful, friendly, and glad to see us. There are definitely some advantages to traveling in a developed country (even if it is pricey!)

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