Napier 39:49° S 176:91° E
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Sat 9 Apr 2016 08:30
Dear Family and Friends,
28th-29th March 2016
From the dismal accommodation of Turangi and the wet weather we raced to the east to the sun and the east coast, Napier to be precise, through the scenic mountains.
Napier to Masterton. We are making our way south to Wellington via the wine route from Hawkes bay. With a brief stopover in Napier, a must if you love Art Deco, a rare treat has arisen out of a natural disaster. Following 1931 earthquake, when much of the town was destroyed, plans for rebuilding were conceived in the then latest style. The centre is a feast of colourful buildings all in the style and must have been a cohesive whole. Today individual shops have their own branding but there is a conscious effort to remain in keeping with Art Deco. And then there is the annual festival of vintage costume, cars and ephemera.
A seaside town, trendy shops and suburbs, clearly this is a favoured place to live with a wide bay and a sun trap. not beach hoppers by nature we opted for the blue penguins, tropical fish, sharks, Tuatara lizards, Kiwi birds, all at the aquarium. So glad we finally saw the kiwi birds properly! Although nocturnal, they are fed during opening hours in a very low lit habitat, so we could see them probing the ground using their sense of smell, (one of the few birds to have this sense), on their long slender beaks. As mentioned all their vital organs are high up in the body cavity, they don’t have a proper sternum but the females do have an enormous body cavity for the single egg they lay at around 400-450gms, ouch! The birds themselves are about the size of a football. Being ground dwelling and easy to catch, their numbers have reduced drastically, hindered by introduced species like rat, stoat, possum, cats and dogs. Birds reaching maturity is so poor a percentage that there is an active programme to collect eggs and release the chicks back to the wild once they are about 6 months old and big enough to tackle their predators.
Sorry quality is not great but it was taken through glass, let me introduce you to a Tuatara, a living fossil from the age of the dinosaurs, surviving on NZ outlying islands away from predators.
But if you were feeling possum are the curse, there’s a man on the front with a shop celebrating possum! His humorous displays highlight the plight of these creatures as you can spot in them huge numbers on the roads, yes the flat variety. And they are hunted for fur and meat, as their numbers are vast. Possum hair is particularly thick and fine and is used with top quality wool in woollen clothing, it feels divine!
Scene from Possum World, again sorry about the quality!
Moving on, the scenery from Napier to Masterton, has changed considerably. The road follows the valley floor, gently rolling hills give way to steeply rising hills at the valley margins, all the honeyed brown of late summer grass. The talk is of a drought here, pastures are barely green, the road signs talk of water conservation, so different from the bright greens the other side of the mountains to the west.
Masterton is wine growing country as is Martinborough. The wines we have found through the supermarkets from this area have been great so we are looking forward to returning and tasting some wines.
All our best,
Lynne, Alan and Josh