Eight days later we faced together quite happily another roadtrip and a birthday.
West for mine ( Summer – Let’s go for a Roadie to Taranaki). East for the Squire. There was no particular reason why it worked out that way. Nowadays, we decide by figuratively throwing a dart at a map of the North Island, have a short planning session then start the car engine.
This is how we roll these days. Planning too far ahead is a no go.
A place we both enjoy visiting and it is made more special by having family still living there. One particular lovely lady we get to visit is my Auntie Jan. Who always seems to surprise us one way or another. This trip it was her playing the ukelele and serenading the Squire with a birthday tune. Fun.
One of the first things that stands out while driving into Wairoa is the lighthouse, it was built initially on the Portland Island off Mahia Penisula and was one of the earliest lighthouse sites in New Zealand. Constructed from solid Kauri, it was in use from 1878 to 1960. It was moved to its current location beside the Wairoa river in 1960, following the introduction of an automated lighting system at Portland Island. In 2016, local resident Richard Lynch embarked on a project to repaint the top of the lighthouse and was amazed to find that beneath the coats of paint that had been applied over the years was a pristine copper dome
The Wairoa River runs south for 65 kilometres from the inland east coast region of the North Island, west of Gisborne, before flowing into northern Hawke Bay via Wairoa.
Not only was the riverside walk pleasant after driving for a few hours, but we were also suitably impressed with the general upkeep and seemingly positive vibe of this smallish farming service town.
Who would have thought we would find a very funky cafe, excellent espresso and cake, in a small town in the middle of the backcountry. Throw in some interesting artwork and a relaxing half an hour people watching, and we were revived to hit the road once again. Of course, not literally.
Another fact we didn’t know about Wairoa before arriving was the town actually holds The Wairoa Maori Film Festival and in 2005 Taika Waititi as director, won an award for his Short Film Drama (Aotearoa) Award: Two Cars One Night. His latest movie to watch is JoJo Rabbit. There you have it small towns can be full of surprises.
Being on the same coast and down the line from Gisborne, Napier is also known for it’s beautiful sunrise vistas.
Other similar attributes are it’s stunning countryside vineyards, waterfront walks, cafes with exquisite food, orchards brimming with stonefruit fruit, and long hot summer days.
Interesting sculptures alongside the waterfront walkway.
There’s no shortage of photogenic flora in Napier, and like us, visitors will enjoy a fragrant respite in the Sunken Gardens, located below street level along the Marine Parade. Dating back to the 1960s but renovated in 2001, the gardens’ paths that wind between manicured flower beds and ponds. There is a waterwheel that’s more than a century old, as well as its lush lawns, all perfect for a picnic lunch accompanied by a bottle of local sauvignon blanc. We didn’t partake in the picnic nor the local vino as it was early morning, we were thankful we had made an effort to head out early as the day’s temperature was well over the mid-30s. A good time to mention most of us in the North Island has had a sweltering summer.
What is uniquely Napier is it’s outstanding Art Deco Architecture. This is the major drawcard and is celebrated every year with The Art Deco Weekend, where all 1930’s glamour, cars, fashion is on display, and general joviality is in abundance.
Most of what was on offer we took advantage of with enthusiasm. Best of all we had the opportunity to spend time together and to visit family. So all in all, we had a super time and created more birthday memories with lunch at the Mission Estate Winery, the food and the surroundings making it an exceptional treat. More on this excellent Winery very shortly.
Until, next time.