We slept through the 285 nautical mile overnight journey and woke to tugs backing us into our narrow little slip on the dock in Napier, a city of 60,000. We watched intently from our decks at the end of the ship. Fascinating how something so big can be maneuvered by something so small.
Similar to the previous two ports, there were acres and acres of logs stacked on the dock ready for shipment abroad. New Zealand has ideal conditions for growing pine and interesting to note is the tree of choice to grow for export is California pine which matures quickly (20 to 25 years) down here.
Napier is known for fruit and wine production as well as its town center’s Art Deco architecture. The backstory on the Art Deco is a sad one. In 1931 a 7.8 earthquake and ensuing fire leveled the area destroying essentially everything. It was decided to rebuild in the popular style of the day giving it its current nickname Art Deco City. It would be fun to attend their annual February festival celebrating all things reminiscent of the ’30s.
We enjoyed seeing what we could of the distinctive architecture from the window of the bus on our way to and from our destination for the day: a gannet rookery. The birds have thankfully chosen to nest on a gigantic property owned by a family very interested in their welfare. The family has spared no expense …think in the millions of dollars… to build a rodent fence to keep out the land animals (cats, possums, and rats in particular) that like to eat the birds and their eggs. Thousands of traps are set to catch (for release) the ones who manage to get onto the property from areas not suited to fencing. The huge property is situated on ridges with beautiful views of the ocean. The birds have no predictor instinct, so we were able to get very close to them, their nests, eggs, and hatchlings.
Knowing absolutely nothing about theses birds there is no reason I should have been surprised by their habits, but I was. For one thing they make little dirt nests with small craters where they lay their eggs on a bed of sea weed. In the lushness of New Zealand I just assumed they would make a nest more representative of their surrounds. The birds are beautiful with their black-tipped wings, snow white bodies, golden-orange heads, and distinctive beaks. Funny story about the babies: they gain so much weight before they fledge they can’t afford to practice flying because they would not be able to take off again unless they had a ledge to accommodate a flying leap. So, when they are ready to head to Australia where they’ll spend their youth, they walk off the ledge and fly nonstop. Should they not be so bright and decide to land on the water to eat or take a break, they’ll be shark bait since they’d be too heavy to take off from the water.
We were treated to tea and goodies once we left the birds. A new treat for us were the tiny silver dollar pancakes with a layer of homemade jam and a big dollop of whipped cream. Yum!
In the spirit of the 1930s and Art Deco, we were welcomed back to the dock by a collection of vintage cars and their owners dressed in period clothes. A cute little extra the townsfolk do as a show of appreciation for our visit to their fine city.
Surprise of the day: Hailed as my birthday cruise, Walter and Cleone surprised me with gifts: beautiful Rustic Cuff earrings and a framed picture from our trip to Morocco earlier this year. At dinner the group surprised me with a cute little cake!
Tonight’s conversation cards: If you could master one instrument what would it be? Which event in the past, present, or future would you like to witness? What’s the funnest advice your mother gave you? Which is more important, intelligence or common sense?
Our waitstaff at dinner has taken a liking to us and our spirited dinner conversation. Tonight they asked about the conversation cards and took it upon themselves to answer a couple of questions.
Kiwi is a nickname for kiwifruit, a slang term for a New Zealander, and a flightless bird.
New Zealand was the first country to introduce the eight-hour work day.
No part of the country is more than 79 miles from the sea.
New Zealand is home to more species of penguins than any other country.
New Zealand was once governed as a part of Australia. When Australia federated in 1901, New Zealand was offered a place as one of their states. New Zealand refused and is its own country with no official ties to Australia.
3 thoughts on “Napier (Nov 24, 2018)”
Love it, Napier sounds cool
It was Matt. Very charming.
Love all of those details! And the fun dinner questions! And that you got an early bday celebration!