Napier New Zealand

Napier is a city of vision, rebuilt in the striking clean style of art deco after a devastating earthquake in 1931 just about leveled the city. Some 40 square kilometers of today’s Napier was undersea before the earthquake raised it.

The Napier area is a rich agricultural and wool producing area in the country. Grape and wine production as well as apples, pears, and stone fruits (peaches, cherries, nectarines, apricots, plums) are plentiful with numerous different varieties of each.

Foreign workers are recruited to pick the fruit with men coming from many nations, earning up to $130 per day, but the work is very physically demanding and local residents do not seek this type of work. In one of the farming communities, we saw some men from Somalia who had already arrived.

The tour began with a picturesque drive along Marine Parade that follows the coastline. Then the bus took us down Tennyson Street to see some of Napier’s art deco architecture – a noted trademark of this town. We had hoped to photograph some of these picturesque buildings, but time did not permit it.

Our first stop was Silky Oak Chocolates. There we viewed the chocolate-making process and sampled some handmade chocolates. The adjacent Chocolate through the Ages Museum gave us a great overview of the history of chocolate from Mayan times to present day. I shall be writing a short blog on the history of chocolate that I think you will enjoy within the next week or so.

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The Hawke’s Bay countryside unfolded as we drove along through the Tuki Tuki Valley farmland with orchards and vineyards. We stopped at Pernel Fruit World, a progressive and enterprising fruit farm and market that have been in existence for 100 years. All of us were taken on a trailer pulled by a Ferguson Tractor on a ride through the orchards where many of the different fruits and varieties of each were shown to us.

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And we also got to see the farm’s “petting” animals they keep for the school children in the area that come to visit.

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New Zealand is also known for its cosmetic products made from natural sources such as Manuka honey and lanolin.

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Next we drove north to the summit of Te Mata Peak Lookout. The limestone peak is about 1000 feet up via a one-way road with many hairpin curves and steep drop offs and cliffs. This rock that was originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed has been tilted and bowed upward by the collision of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

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When we returned to the dock some of the local towns people, dressed in 1930s attire, had parked a number of their vintage vehicles near the ship for us to see and enjoy. Many passengers had their pictures taken with the old cars and enjoyed the brass band that was also playing by the gangway.

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