Friday, January 18, 2008

New Zealand Road Trip - December 19, 2007 (16)

December 19


Napier is a neat city, popular with vacationing New Zealanders because of the pleasant climate and the wonderful beaches. Napier is known as the Art Deco city, and is maintaining that title these days mainly because of the work of the Art Deco Trust. The buildings in this city have undergone massive reconstruction since the earthquake of 1931 which almost levelled the city. The rapid rebuilding, which occurred in the following few years after the earthquake saw the rise of the Art Deco city, was influenced by the art of that time. Other tourist attractions include Marineland, the Hawkes Bay Aquarium and a Kiwi House (where you can actually touch a kiwi!).Napier is also famous for the wide variety of water sports including water skiing, windsurfing, kayaking, parasailing etc.


Napier's population ~ 58,000
I found this annotated satellite map of Napier - click in the boxes and it tells you the name of the site and if one exists, a link to another website with more info.

Another overcast, rainy day. It was not an ideal visit due to the weather - the only day we used our umbrellas! However, we did spend some time wondering around. As per the above, Napier is a "neat" city. I think in the sun it would be even nicer!

Marine Parade, the main drag. Norfolk Pines line the street.

Napier Sunken Garden - the white statue in the background is called the Bio-Morphic Sculpture. Sunken Gardens.

Sunken Gardens. I don't know what this flower is, but we saw them all over NZ. I think they are quite cool looking.
Gilray Fountain.

Tom Parker Fountain.

Blythe Memorial Fountain.

Heritage Fountain, Marine Parade.

The Colonnade, which includes two smaller arches.

The Veronica Sunbay. Well - maybe "Rainbay" on this day!

The Sunbay consists of a curved arcade with a pierced wall of unglazed windows on the seaward side and grouped columns on the landside. The structure was built in 1934 and in 1937 was named the "Veronica Sunbay" when the bell from HMS Veronica was presented to the city as a memento of the assistance rendered by the crew of HMS Veronica in rescue work in the aftermath of the 1931 earthquake. By 1988 the steel reinforcing of the original structure was badly corroded and unsafe. It was demolished and replaced with a replica in 1991. The Veronica bell is now housed in the Hawke's Bay Museum.


The Napier Lone Star is housed in a funky, unique Art-Deco building dating back to the early 1900’s – commonly referred to as the T & G Building (formerly the home of Temperance & General Insurance) on the corner of Marine Parade and Emerson Street - directly opposite the wonderful Soundshell.


Pania of the Reef. Pania is a Maori legend. (Our motel was the "Pania Motel".)

Bronze on Limestone base Inscription: "Pania of the Reef"
An old Maori legend tells how Pania, lured by the siren voices of the sea people, swam out to meet them. When she endeavoured to return to her lover, she was transformed into the reef which now lies beyond the Napier Breakwater. To perpetuate the legend the Thirty Thousand Club presented this statue to the City of Napier - 1954. The statue was posed for by a 15 year old Maori girl, May Robin. The sculpture and bronze - founding was carried out by the Italian Marble Company of Carrera, Italy. [from]

Napier Museum.
The Napier Museum roof. Note the corrugated metal sculpture (King Kong with an ice cream?). We noticed quite a bit of this type of sculpture through the region.

Soundshell far in the distance.
Soundshell close up. As you might guess, this is an amphitheatre where outdoor events are held.

Conservation House, the former Napier Courthouse.

Masonic Hotel.

Criterion Hotel.

Main street. (Probably either Emerson or Tennyson Street.)

More art deco.

Another view of the main street in the touristy part of town. (Probably either Emerson or Tennyson Street.) Note the wide awnings over the sidewalks. All the cities/towns we visited had these. There are enough rainy days (such as this day) where shoppers would probably stay home without some protection (I know I would!) - it would likely affect business.

Reinsheep pulling a Christmas Tractor. :)

More art deco.

Palm tree with Jacaranda in the background - that's the tree with the purple flowers. I was quite fascinated with these trees. The leaves look like ferns. This was the first place we saw them, but we did see them as we went further north so this must have been somewhere around the most southerly extent of their range.

Jacaranda again.

Centennial Carillon - Clive Square.

Joe and Craig (with Traumador). This is taken in Clive Square.

Clive Square was part of the original town plan of the city in 1854. It was the equivalent of a village green and the first cricket and football matches were played here. A track cut across the middle, and this later became a street dividing the area into two (Clive Square and Memorial Square). In 1886 the square was enclosed with white picket fencing, with gates at the corner entrances. The 'Clive Square' side boasted a large centre circle with seating around the outside facing in to a central band rotunda. Most of the enclosed area was in lawn with trees and shrubs planted around the perimeter.


New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Marine Parade.

Marine Parade.

We left Napier in the rain. I'm the first to admit that I'm a "fair weather" person. I expect we would have stayed longer if it had been nicer weather. We were getting soggy, so decided to press on with our travels. We got into our little Corolla and continued our journey north to Taupo and Rotorua.

Taupo was pretty miserable in terms of weather. We stopped there for a late lunch, but didn't take any pix of note - other than this big fish by the lake before lunch. After lunch it was even worse - couldn't see the lake. We went on to Rotorua.

Big fish!

Can you see the lake (Lake Taupo)? I can't see the lake.


The Rotorua district has a multi-cultural population of approximately 70,000 people; some 35% are Maori. Rotorua city is located on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua , while the district includes a number of rural and lakeside communities. An international tourism icon, Rotorua is renowned as the heartland of Maori culture. There are 16 lakes in the vicinity of Rotorua, many of which are fishable lakes packed with rainbow and brown trout. The lakes, all formed from the craters of extinct volcanoes, are a popular attraction for many water-based activities. From the moment visitors enter Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. Whether it's the sneaky threads of steam finding unlikely escape routes in parks, pathways and streets or the distinct scent of sulphur wafting through geothermal hot spots, Rotorua offers an impressive welcome.


The first thing we did was secure lodging. As I recall, it was still overcast, but not raining. Once accommodation was arranged we hit the "i-site" (information centre) and booked an evening at the Mitai Maori Village. This is an evening of food and Maori entertainment that also provides some education on Maori tradition. Check the website. Their pix there are better than ours. We didn't get many good ones due to the fact that it was too dark.

This is the BBQ pit. The Maori BBQ is called a hangi.

"Warriors" arriving in their waka (war canoe).

The "warrior" entertainment.

Rotorua is known as the Maori cultural centre and there are numerous Maori enterprises that will happily take your money in exchange for providing a sample of the Maori culture. We found this particular one to be a good value for the dollar. The food was good, the entertainment was - well - entertaining - and educational. The evening ended with a walk through the rainforest (it was still rainy) that surrounds the "village," which was quite lovely. We saw more glowworms here, and a crystal clear creek with many fish and big eels (we think long finned eels).

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