With Napier’s unique art deco style and the beautiful weather we felt as if we were on some sort of Mediterranean holiday spending our time strolling on the sun-kissed promenade enjoying exotic ice-creams. Not what we expected at all but we weren’t complaining. It was fabulous.
The Art Deco Capital of the World
The whole city is one big art-deco showpiece and draws millions of visitors every year. Luckily we were there before the main holiday season so it wasn’t particularly busy and we decided that we really needed to discover what the fuss was all about. So we set off on a self-guided tour of the main buildings and historical locations. Every street in the centre could almost be a movie-set and they make it even better by having classic cars all over town.
Napier Downtown Festival
Jo’s obsessional collection of leaflets often pays off and it did here when we learnt about the Downtown Festival scheduled for the weekend. Music, stalls and events? We’d have some of that. So another fabulous walk down Marine Parade before watching the local jazz band playing well-known 20s and 30s dance music at the Sound Shell.
Then down to Hastings Street to watch a great acoustic set in the scorching midday sun. People everywhere and a laid-back friendly atmosphere made it terrific.
Whilst enjoying the music Jo noticed a bench nearby covered in knitting materials with a sign inviting you to join in the knitting. They wanted to cover the whole bench so she was there in a flash. As I stood enjoying the mellow guitar sounds she beavered away creating another piece of history for Napier.
After a slow relaxing wander around town we headed for the Station Bar for a quick beer or two before a wonderful couple of hours in the air-conditioned luxury of the Reading Cinema watching Murder on the Orient Express. Film was pretty good but the A/C was even better.
Ahupiri Harbour Walk
Because of the two hills right in the centre of Napier the harbour area is tucked away from the main town so another hike was in order if we wanted to explore it. Similar to our previous Bluff Lookout Hike we retraced our steps up to the Botannical Gardens but then veered left down to the harbour. A crafty beer in Shed 2 before walking the length of the harbour area past bars and restaurants and cool little shops.
The most fascinating part of the walk however was when as we passed the timber yards and dock area on our way back to town. We could have watched the trains and trucks moving containers and lumber all day. The size of the place was mind-blowing. As we returned to the sea front though we just had to pause for another ice cream at the very cool little Magnet Container Coffee Shop. It was just an old shipping container converted into a beachfront bar.
Very cool and lovely ice cream. Unfortunately the ice cream gave us the taste and 30 minutes later we stopped again at our favourite ice store Rush and Munro’s for yet more ice magic. This time it was Rum’n Raisin, Coffee Walnut, Banoffee Banana, and Hokey Pokey flavours! We were getting through their menu in superfast time.
Christmas Tiki Tour
Our lovely hosts, Liz and Steve, had offered to give us a tour of the town after dark one evening so we could see the Christmas lights. They called it a Tiki Tour which we had never heard of but is apparently Kiwi slang for a sightseeing trip. So we set off on a guided Kiwi Christmas Tiki Tour.
The town looked so festive with its Christmas lights all switched on and the drive along the seafront was just beautiful in the moonlight but the highlight was when they pulled up in a residential sidestreet over near the harbour. Just a normal NZ house but absolutely drenched with Christmas lights and decorations. It reminded us of home so much and was amazing to walk around but a little strange as we were both in t-shirts, shorts, and sandals! Apart from that, brilliant.
Sociable Last Night
Our best Airbnb experiences have always been when we connect to the hosts somehow and get to know them. Liz and Steve invited us round for a few drinks on our last night and that connection was sealed with lots of chatting and story-telling and above all laughter. That’s the way it always should be.
02/12 – 06/12/2017