Friday, February 25, 2011

Around Napier

Saturday, 26th February, 2011
Napier, Hawke’s Bay

Today we’re enjoying our last day in Hawke’s Bay, having quit our packhouse job! Our last day was Thursday, and with each of us near a thousand dollars the richer, we will be fine to get through our next bit of time in New Zealand. We still have aching backs and blistered fingers, and decided that it just wasn’t worth it to continue working under those conditions, even for the luxury of a little extra money. 

 (Click on Photos to Enlarge)

One advantage to schlepping heavy boxes of fruit for 10 days:

 One Disadvantage:
 Keep in mind that Matt's hands got this torn up while wearing thick gloves...

With the prospect of working every day for the next month (I checked with my boss, and was told no days off for the foreseeable future. This is somehow legal because it’s casual, temporary work. I think it’s insane.), we decided to call it quits and head out. We worked for ten days straight, ten days that were got through on the promise of money, sheer willpower, and a lot of painkillers. We’re both incredibly glad that experience is behind us, and are still recovering somewhat; we attempted to sleep in yesterday, but found ourselves wide awake at 7 AM!

We’ve been enjoying the past two days, resting a lot, catching up on everything that has been neglected while we worked (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.), and seeing more of the city here. Napier is a legitimately cool town, and we spent yesterday afternoon wandering around and seeing the sights. Napier and its sister city, Hastings, were leveled in a massive earthquake in 1931, and Napier was rebuilt entirely in Art Deco style, and Hastings in Spanish Mission, although by all accounts it didn’t really take in Hastings, and Napier is the nicer place to be. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a city done in Art Deco, but I’ve been converted to it, and I think it’s very attractive (except for the Cathedral- see photo below) and the whole place is really well laid out. I’m writing today from a coffee shop on Emerson Street, right in the heart of the city, where the place is hopping with the crowds off a cruise ship that came in this morning.

Yesterday we went up to Bluff Hill Lookout, and as it was a gorgeous day, we got some fantastic views of Hawke’s Bay and the city:

 The cliffs in the distance are at Cape Kidnappers, to the south.

 A view down on the surf break by the port. 

Napier city. 

Huge piles of logs being loaded into a freighter at the Port.

You'll notice that Matt has brought back the mohawk (or "Mohican" if you're in the Commonwealth). He was overheating in the packhouse so I did the honors one night at the hostel bathroom, to many hilarious reactions from our young Asian hostelmates.

Here are just a few of the Art Deco pieces throughout the CBD (Central Business District) of Napier:

We spent last night with a group of our friends here, all neighbors in our tent city, sitting around with several guitars and the ukelele, singing and joking and enjoying the stars peeking through the clouds. It made me a bit homesick, but it was great to spend more time with the great people we’ve met here, before we move on.
 Boardwalk and marina at Napier waterfront.

 Emerson Street.

 Marine Parade, the main drag down the waterfront.

 Pania of the Reef, a figure of local Maori mythology. The details of the story are a little foggy, but basically Pania was a mermaid who fell in love with a human and then was somehow banished back to the sea, where it is said she became the reef off of Napier, with arms outstretched for her human lover. 

 Gnarly shore break at Napier Beach. Not a swimming beach- see the people for scale.

 The Six Sisters, on Marine Parade.

 Rad skate park right on the waterfront!

This morning, we decided to try and fit in a surf, and went over to the break at the harbour mouth, taking along our buddies Evan (Canadian) and Richard (German), smuggling them on the bedframe in the van, along with the three surfboards! We all had a nice little surf on tiny waves, it felt great to be back in the water after a few weeks of not surfing at all. It was cloudy and a bit chilly- while we were trapped inside in the packhouse, the season has shifted noticeably towards autumn. It’s sad to think of our delicious warm summer coming to an end soon, but fall is my favorite season so I’m not too heartbroken. Apple season signifies the beginning of the end, and late February here is the equivalent of late August in the Northern Hemisphere, and March will be September for us. It’s been a bit cooler and rainier these last couple weeks, but the sun is still hot and bright as ever. We’re just hoping the next rain will hold off a bit so we can pack up a dry tent tomorrow when we shift back into the van for the next phase. For more on that, see my next post!

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