Saturday, February 10, 2024 (Australian time)
Today was a beautiful day here in Napier, New Zealand. Beautiful blue sky with a few puffy white clouds; warm but not hot, and not too windy.
We are only in port here until 1:00 pm, and we have two excursions, so it will be a busy morning. So after a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast we headed off for our first excursion into town. And guess what that was??? A wine tasting! Really! I wasn't sure I would enjoy tasting wine at 9:30 in the morning, but we took tiny tastes and had fun. The wine tasting was held in a beautiful historic home in Napier (see below)
Missionaries brought the first grape plants to the area in 1851. Since those early days the Hawks Bay area near Napier has become the second-largest wine-growing region in New Zealand, with more than 70 vineyards. The volcanic soil and mild weather makes some types of grapes thrive, and now there are more than 38 varieties in the area.
Excursion 2: Hawke"s Bay Express City Tour
Napier is known for the beautiful art-deco architecture throughout the city. The architecture is so modern because the city was destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1931. With so much of the city destroyed, the city officials decided to create a plan for rebuilding that would serve the city well then, and for the future. So instead of recreating what was there before they planned a modern (art deco was popular in the 1930's), safe, and community oriented city. The result is a beautiful city with wide streets, lots of parks and outdoor spaces where citizens can, and do congregate. It appears to be a friendly place and according to our guide, a city where the citizens know and support each other. Most businesses are small and family owned, with the exception of the agricultural industry.
The six sisters are houses a father had built for his 6 daughters.
Returning to the earthquake in 1931, it was a 7.8 quake that lasted for over 2 minutes. Besides the death and destruction, it had another dramatic effect on the area. The ground, over 40 square kilometers in the Napier region, rose around 2 meters. The sea was pushed back as seaside areas rose, nearby marshes and shallow lakes rose to become land areas. The city, and usable land around the city, suddenly grew tremendously. Incredible!
(see before and after maps below)
And finally, our day was highlighted by the awesome send-off and greeting by the Viking Orion staff and the townspeople. The Orion had staff at the gangplank and handed out fruit juice. The city provided music, displayed old cars, and townspeople dressed in period attire to remember and honor the times of the earthquake; a time where the townspeople worked together in a collective effort for the recovery.
Tomorrow we dock in Tauranga (Rotorua) where we will experience more of the Maori culture and traditions as well as visit a Kiwi farm and the Bay of Plenty.