For the long Easter weekend (we get Friday and Monday off work here), Andy and I took off for Napier as a belated celebration for my 30th. Napier is four hours northeast of Wellington in NZ’s Hawke’s Bay region. I’d only been briefly once before to see the Dixie Chicks last year, and didn’t get a chance to explore much at the time.
Napier is known for its good weather and art deco architecture, a recipe for an awesome getaway in my opinion. Due to a huge 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 1931, most of the town had to be rebuilt at that time, and art deco was the style of the day. More on that later.
We dropped Higgs with his Uncle Scott and Auntie Mel on Friday morning, and we were on our way. After the winding mountain pass over the Rimutaka Range, the drive was mostly rolling farmland. In the early afternoon, we arrived at our cottage in Ahuriri, a seaside suburb of Napier.
I don’t think this place could be any cuter!
The owner is clearly very artsy, and the place had fabulous decorations.
You have to look closely, or you’ll miss one of the most discreet works of art…
That’s right – a rare Andrew Pearson!
We had a relaxing evening with some beer in our garden and wayyy too much food out in Ahuriri, so an all around success.
The next morning, we met my friend Fi for breakfast in Napier before heading to the aquarium. Hawke’s Bay didn’t disappoint with its renowned beautiful weather.
Those cliffs in the distance are Cape Kidnappers, which you’ll see up close in a future post.
This guy stopped throwing rocks at me long enough to pose for a photo. Don’t let his look of innocence fool you.
That awesome building behind him is Napier Aquarium, where we were headed.
Ok, just one more beach shot!
The fabulous street art of Napier deserves its own post, which it’ll get, but I couldn’t pass up the aquarium shots as a first taste.
No Andys were harmed during this photo shoot, despite provoking the large aquatic creatures.
Time to head inside.
Andy chose the appropriate shirt for our outing, complete with fish lures. Dangerous business at an aquarium!
While Napier Aquarium isn’t as big as others I’ve been to, like Boston’s amazing New England Aquarium, it had a charm all its own.
And it had some priceless photo ops that one of us may or may not have been forced into. Guess who.
Maybe my favorite photo from the trip.
The ocean denizens were ready for their close-ups too.
What a winning smile, Mr. Puffer.
One of the best surprises was a group of little blue penguins. They’ve all been rescued after various injuries or mishaps and now live out their days at Napier Aquarium. Doesn’t look like the worst life, lounging in the sun away from predators.
My favorite penguin had to be Gonzo, the muppet I loved most growing up.
Next up, the epitome of all aquarium wonders, an underwater tunnel!
Please allow Andy to present you with this fish.
We had the tunnel mostly to ourselves, and it was pretty incredible watching rays and sharks coast overhead.
Our friend Ray even smiled for the camera.
It was a great way to finish off our tour of the aquarium.
We still had the entire afternoon ahead of us, which we spent driving up the coast, visiting a couple breweries and going out for an incredible Italian dinner in Napier. This was the view from our table. Ah, bliss.
Stay tuned for more Hawke’s Bay Easter adventures!