Today started with an easy drive out of Wellington and then following the Hutt Valley before heading up and over a mountain pass which is pretty normal for driving in NZ. As if the day wasn’t going to be a long enough day I convinced myself I needed to go to a place called Castlepoint, about 60kms off the main road and on the coast. There was a picture of it on my hotel wall and a quick google to find where it was in NZ was enough to convince me to go on the way to Napier. I arrived around lunchtime, parked the car on the sandbar along with everyone else who didn’t get one of about 10 car parks and walked up the path to the lighthouse. Most people seemed to be here for fishing or surfing.
I stayed for some hot chips from the general store for lunch, that were pretty average. It didn’t seem to bother the seagulls who loved the chips and caught them mid-air as I threw them into a cloud of gulls. I’d imagine at sunrise and sunset it would be really nice here. Back into the car and followed the road back to the main highway. The rest of the drive to Napier was quite tame and not that spectacular, although NZ sets a high bar for nice drives.
I arrived in Napier and the only thing I knew about the town was many buildings were built in the Art Deco style and still exist to this day. The Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931 was the most fatal in New Zealand’s history and while it did level much of Napier and nearby Hastings, it also created more land to build on when the lagoon floor was raised several metres. Napier was rebuilt in the prevailing style at the time of Art Deco. The local council started to knock them down until the locals stepped in to save the buildings. Now they have a festival every year and Napier has become a tourist site for its art deco buildings.
I stayed at an AirBnB tonight and the host was lovely and apologised as they have wifi problems. Luckily they are looking forward to the new fibre the NZ government is installing for everyone, just like the Australian government were going to do until it became a political football. My room was bright and airy and had a lovely view out to the sea. It is a nice town and I could have stayed here longer and explored the vineyards as well. Alas, the journey continues to Rotorua i . the morning.