Friday, 14 December 2007

Silly Season Road Trip - Day Two

Day Two
Dad's turn to drive. Our first stop is Waipukurau, where Mom wanted to check out an art gallery. My parents bought some ceramic plates with a kiwi design done in blacks and blues, which seemed appropriate because kiwi are nocturnal - a point we had just been reminded of at our visit to Mt. Bruce the day before. I have seen many a kiwi in New Zealand, but always in the hushed artificial night of a kiwi house at a zoo or wildlife park.

We stopped for lunch in Hastings. Now we were in Art Deco country. We spent some time wandering around the town square and photographing things. Suddenly everything was art. The street lights, the bell tower, the movie theatre.
The other notable thing about Hastings is that they built the town square such that the railway runs right through the middle of the water fountain. I was hoping for a train to come by and really make a great photo, but no such luck.
belltower hastings
We mapped a route from Hastings to Napier that would take us past a couple of wineries. We were now in the Hawke's Bay region. Know more for its Chardonnay and big reds like cabernet and merlot, this region has a lot in common with Northern California. Not a fan of big reds, we mostly stuck with Chardonnay.

Napier. This detail from a park bench says it all:
rebuilt with vision
Both Hastings and Napier were devastated by an earth quake in 1931. Art deco was in high fashion at the time, so both cities rebuilt almost exclusively in this style. Only fitting since part of the mythos of art deco has to do with the dawning of a new era, a shinning future of industry and beauty. Napier has a huge advantage over Hastings, as far as I'm concerned, due to it being on the coast. A long, straight stretch of beach runs along Napier, and they have made excellent use of it, building a park along side most of it, with such features as botanic gardens, an aquarium, a skate park, and the "soundshell" - an open air sound stage:
the shell napier
The best feature, however, was Ocean Spa. Loren and I got a private spa bath. Kept at just barely above body temperature, the water seems not quite hot enough at first, but ten minutes in and I'm toasty warm and drowsy, looking up at the darkening sky out the window. At that moment I felt completely relaxed. And that's when I knew I was really on vacation.

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