I realise I’m being repetative when I say there’s an abundance of treasured memories for me in New Zealand. Particularly in this area. Living in Gisborne alone for nine months from 2001 to 2002, I often headed out of town on my days off. Napier was one of my first ‘big’ adventures. It’s the closest large city to Gisborne, but a three hour drive along winding roads, gorges and mountain ranges. The sister of a family friend lived there, and I’d go and stay with her.
A Pie Stop at Wairoa
En route to the Art Deco capital of the world, we stopped at Wairoa. Here at Osler’s Bakery, you’ll find THE best pies. I can categorically state that until I tasted NZ pies, I thought UK ones we’re good.
Barry chose a chicken curry pie and I had a steak and cheese. Yum! We sat by the river to eat them – I was also tempted by a few pastries which isn’t so positive …
Mahia is intrinsically linked to Wairoa, and I found a notice about their Rocket Launching Station there. Sadly we’d missed recent launching activity by days. It must be amazing to watch.
The community are what I’d call ‘salt of the earth’ people. It’s also the the gateway to Lake Waikaramoana, one of the best-unspoilt areas of native bush in Aotearoa. There’s a treasured Primary Care Birthing Unit here too, where four friends work. A special place.
A Spectacular Overnight Stop
Our overnight stop on Friday last week was somewhere we’ve passed by road many times but never stopped at. Lake Tutira astounded us with its splendour.
Here we were surrounded by sheep, black swans, and all manner of bird-life. There were even three cygnets which weirdly are exactly the same colour as English white swans! The black swans all gave white feathers under their wings. There’s no white swans to be found in NZ as far as we’re aware? Maybe the Queen won’t let them out?
We walked to an ancient Pa site. Listened to sweet bird song. Gazed at a stunning sunset. Met new fellow travelers. Used a great ‘en suite’ long drop. In fact the only downside was hardly any internet which prevented me from working. Though that’s likely to be an upside if I reframe it?
Glorious sunset lots of sheep surrounded by caravans and motorhomes traveling golf courses of NZ. Next stop Gisborne! Recommended Verve Cafe for coffee of course!
A Few Hours In Napier
I was adamant I wanted our first stop to be the Classic Sheepskin factory in Napier. Over the years I’ve bought a number of ‘off cuts’ from here. My friend Gill originally introduced me to the shop. They’re not expensive ones, but will prove great for warmth in the van.
Another place we wanted to visit during our brief stay was the Napier Museum. Last time I came, November 2012, with two of my sisters it was closed. I found it astonishing it would take years to re-build/refurbish it. Yet after the earthquake of 1931 decimated the city they managed to re-build it in just over a year! The new space however is gorgeous, with a number of interesting exhibitions. Their Children’s Holocaust Memorial is extremely moving and poignant. Let’s all be UPstanders, rather then BYstanders, as I feel there’s far too many undercurrents in the world today that could prove disaterous once again.
Marine Parade is always a delight, though the black sand beach is nowhere near as attractive as the Gisborne one. The fabulous fountain is lit up at night. In the daytime you’ll generally find children splashing about.
And of course there’s the beautiful Pania of the Reef statue – she was stolen from her place a few years ago, but luckily was found and returned to her rightful place.
“Pania was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea. By daylight she swam about with other sea creatures but after sunset would go to a stream that ran into the bay where the city of Napiernow sits. … Pania and Karitoki went to his whare (house), and at sunrise Pania prepared to leave but Karitoki tried to stop her.”https://www.hawkesbaynz.com/see-and-do/art-design-and-culture/the-maori-culture-guide/cultural-sites/pania-of-the-reef/
Amazing Art deco
In February 2016 I stayed with my dear friend Andre for the Art Deco Weekend. It was incredible fun. If you ever get a chance to participate I’d highly recommend it. Which I did to Helen and Andy and they detoured on their itinerary to experience one day of it last February.
There’s Art Deco in adundance here and it’s magnificent. The buildings. The shops. It’s exuded everywhere right down to the pavements. I visited a special Art Deco shop with two of my sisters in 2012 and we took one of my favourite photos of the three of us in 1930s style hats and feather boas.
This time I visited and found a perfect scarf to cover up our new storage boxes in the van.
Since our visit, sadly we’ve experienced severe weather conditions in parts of the North Island. Napier was subjected to a month’s rainfall in one day – a ‘one-in-250-year’ flood. We hope everyone is okay and that the city recovers swiftly.
My pictures won’t show nearly as much fabulousness as Barry’s. As usual, click on the first one to begin the slide-show …