As I start to write this post, I realise that I have no idea what “Art Deco” actually means so I thought I would look it up…courtesy of Uncle Google…
The predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors, and used most notably in household objects and in architecture.
Napier, on the East Coast of the North Island, proclaims itself to be just this…the art deco capital of the world! Bold indeed. Around 100 miles from Taupo (with nothing in between) is where we headed for a weekend. So why claim this, and is it worth a visit?
The main reason is due to the fault lines running throughout New Zealand. Napier was destroyed in 1931 by the biggest earthquake in New Zealand’s history (7.9 on the Richter scale). 161 people died either in the quake or the resulting fires which swept through the city. More people died in nearby Hastings. Areas of the seabed (and existing coastline) were raised 2m upwards by the quake and the airport now lives on such land as was previously under the water.
Napier was then rebuilt in full, employing tradesmen from across the country. The city is not large and it didn’t take long to walk around. It is a nice setting with pebble beaches (apparently a result of coastal erosion at from nearby Cape Kidnappers where the cliffs are made from compacted mud and stones). I wasn’t blown away by the buildings but then I tend to prefer nature to man’s prowess! Judge for yourself…
Also, check out an example of how the land moves when an earthquake strikes, with a view from nearby Cape Kidnappers…you can see the layers of rock either side of the diagonal fault line…they don’t line up…some of these are up to 11m awry! Amazing!
Just to the South of Napier lies Cape Kidnappers. Named due to a local Maori tribe kidnapping one of Captain Cook’s cabin boys (who escaped back to the ship), here lies the largest mainland Gannet colony in the world. Incredibly, you can get within a few metres of them without them being in the least bit bothered by your presence.
They are noisy, they smell (best to stay upwind!) and they could quite possibly be one of the most pretty birds in the world. Stunning white and cream feathers and blue eyes.
We took a tour with Gannet Beach Adventures where you are pulled along the beach by tractor and get to enjoy a fact-filled talk over around 4 hours. A beautiful way to see the Cape. Some Gannet facts…
1. Gannets have air sacs in their chest and head to cushion the impact of diving into the water at high speed.
2. Their nostrils are inside the mouth.
3. Their eyes are forward to give binocular vision and thus (just like us humans) allow accurate judging of distance.
4. They can hit the water at around 100kph, with their wings tucking behind them so they hit like an arrow.
5. No one knows why but the Gannets here, once fledged, fly to Australia for around 3-4 years before returning and then staying in New Zealand. No other Gannets are known to exhibit this behaviour.
Just a short post to relate a couple of aspects of Kiwi humour…which I think is generally akin to that of the UK. They have a generally laid back attitude to life which comes across in humour. An example would be that their national Badminton team used to be known as the “Black Cocks”…not any more might I add (although there was sponsorship interest from condom companies)…but very amusing. The NZ basketball team is called the “Tall Blacks”.
I saw this advertisement for Lipton tea which I thought provides a good example of the way they use humour to say what everyone is thinking…while also in some ways mocking themselves…and then we have some eggs (strange choice!) which merited a photo in a grocery store!!
I have talked a good while ago now about some of the things I miss…or more appropriately do not miss…about the UK after coming to NZ. However, I think it is worth thinking about something else – namely the number of things you take for granted in your day to day life…
1. All of the shops you know and love are not on your doorstep any more…so where do you go for a pair of shoes? Where do you go for a new TV? This is no great hardship really…it makes things a little more interesting…but also more time consuming to do even the simple things in life that come naturally wherever you are from.
2. There are odd occasions when you need a friend or family helping hand…not quite so easy any more. We were incredibly lucky to have some help in loan of furniture after we arrived here but I can only guess at how hard it can be for some people arriving with just a suitcase and no-one to greet them.
3. Many brands these days are worldwide but there are still occasions when the best of elsewhere simply doesn’t quite cut the mustard. The prime example being beer. The real ale of Britain (some of which you can buy here…for a price) cannot be beaten. But for each downside, there are upsides because the freshness and variety (and cheap prices!) of fresh produce here is top notch.
4. A lot of the time I would find that I would perhaps not pay full attention when someone used to give me advice, such as “this curry house is great”…whereas here, you can never be sure what little gems you might hear to make things a little easier…an example being someone telling me that the man who owns the Z petrol stations also makes award winning pies, which he sells in the petrol stations…and boy is it true! Who would have thought of Thai green curry in a pie…?
5. Something that happened was my PS3 gave up the ghost recently…not a huge problem you would think to just get a new Blu Ray player…but in NZ it is…because of DVD region codes (Blu Ray regions are the same). A simple job needed hours of research to try to find a player that might just take region 4 DVDs. Thank heaven for hacking websites. We ended up settling on a slightly lower spec player which seemed easier to change the region using the remote (you can’t hack Sony or Samsung easily) and thankfully job done!
Thankfully the internet helps with so many things these days…and there is no substitute for getting out of the house and experiencing something a little different each time. Just be careful of the routine taking shape…