When I think of images of my trip to the North Island of New Zealand what comes to mind? Green farmland, cows, sheep, mountains which are active volcanoes, the sea.
I also think of Prince of Wales Feathers which seem to be everywhere and very tourist friendly harbour developments in Auckland and Wellington where the redevelopment with museums and cafes exists with a working harbour.
I also think of all the great sculptures I saw in streets, parks and the Wellington Botanical Gardens. There seemed to be sculptures everywhere.
Napier is one of my most favourite of all the cities I have visited.
Known as the Art Deco City, Napier has the most comprehensive collection of inner-city art deco buildings in the world. Every February, thousands of people flock to Napier to celebrate the Art Deco Weekend Summer Festival, sending the township back to a time of new hope. The Festival celebrates the reconstruction of Napier City after a devastating earthquake in 1931.
I went on a 2 hour walking tour with a very informative guide from the Art Deco Trust. I was lucky enough to be the only person on this tour which started with a video of the earthquake. She pointed out all the art deco features and we went into buildings I would not have gone into on my own including the theatre where Kiri Te Kanawa was to perform the following night.
I would thoroughly recommend this tour.
Like most visitors to Wellington I took the funicular to Kelburn and walked back to the city through the Botanical Gardens along the sculpture walk.
I met so many helpful friendly people during my 3 weeks in New Zealand. There was the woman on the bus from Napier to Wellington who was going for the birth of her first grandchild. She told me all about the area we were travelling through and how she and her sister went to NZ on a working holiday 30 plus years ago from Melbourne. They both met and married backpackers, her husband was from the UK and they settled in NZ. When we arrived in Wellington I was given a lift to my hotel by her friend.
A couple from Wellington, who were staying at Tongariro Chateau told me to be sure to visit the Museum Hotel opposite the Te Papa and suggested where I should eat. The Museum Hotel has an amazing collection of art in their bar, foyer and 3rd floor restaurant, where I was very welcome to have a drink with a view of the harbour. I then followed up their suggestion of where to eat. So glad I did. There was no way I would have known about these 2 places without their helpful suggestions.
There was the woman from England who shared my table in a cafe in Taupo only to meet again in the Museum in Napier.
One of the joys of travelling alone is the chance encounters and conversations.