Sunday, April 06, 2008

Logbook: Hawkes Bay

Hawkesbay1Betty and I pulled out of Wellington on Thursday morning, quite satisfied that our two days in that city were enough to get a feel for it and equally convinced that it is not our kind of place. There's nothing wrong with Wellington, but for us it was just a city with nothing in particular going for it. It took us most of the day to make our way northeast, across the mountains, on a scenic route that was similar to our South Island experience but with perceptibly more trees on the one hand and somewhat more substantial development on the other. By late afternoon we were cruising through what is known as the Hawke's Bay area -- one of NZ's major wine producing regions -- and on into our destination at the small city of Napier. Situated on a wide, pleasant bay of the Pacific Ocean, Napier is a delightful town which is particularly known for its Art Deco architecture. Though this attribute is not as obvious as one might expect from reading the literature, it is fairly evident and rather more tastefully in balance with the rest of the town's character than the seemingly arbitrary, overdone excess which you may recall I observed in Ranfurly.

Hawkesbay2As had pretty much become our custom, we followed our long "road day" with an "easy day" on Friday, happily filling the time with a lengthy, relaxing brunch, a bit of walking around town and a visit to the moderately entertaining National Aquarium. On Saturday morning we drove a bit southeast to Cape Kidnappers -- so named because it is where Captain Cook thought one of his crew had been kidnapped by local Maoris -- for a tour to visit a large Gannett colony. It was fairly late in the season so many of the birds had already left, but there were still quite a few on hand and they gave us quite a show. The most remarkable aspect of our visit was that we were able to get right next to the colony, with only a few feet separating us from the birds who seemed to be completely unaffected by our presence. Because of our proximity, I was able to shoot a lot of "up close and personal" video that I hope to edit into a Report very soon.

Yesterday morning we drove to the nearby little city of Hastings for brunch and a visit to the Sunday Market, then returned to Napier where I scouted out and secured a place for myself to stay a while. For reasons that I will soon explain in detail, I will be remaining in Napier while Betty continues on her own exploration of the North Island. Thus, we had our final dinner together last night, reminisced about the really wonderful exploration we have done together over the past five weeks and bid each other fond farewells. Betty has been an excellent co-explorer on The Voyage and I have greatly enjoyed her company. I will look forward to seeing her again, confident that our paths will cross somewhere, sometime in the future. Thanks Betty!

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