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nappark.jpg (50297 bytes)Napier is a picturesque town on the east coast of the North Island.  It is known for its Art Deco architecture and slow pace as a seaside tourist destination.  We weren't too impressed with the architecture but we aren't architects.  It was a friendly town and we made a stop here that we really enjoyed. 

There is a Kiwi House in many larger or tourist center towns.  A Kiwi House is a small zoo dedicated to Kiwi Birds and they are designed to raise awareness about the delicate situation these birds face.  The Kiwi House in Napier is on the waterfront and admission is $3. 

There are 2 times that these birds become active and it is best to time your visit accordingly.  When they are fed they become very active in their habitat and they are also brought out to a viewing area where you may observe them from very close.  napier1.jpg (39742 bytes)

Kiwi's are nocturnal so their habitat and viewing area is kept very dark.   No flash pictures are allowed for obvious reasons so we have no pictures.  We enjoyed seeing them in action and we came away with a totally different impression of them.  We had thought they were timid and defenseless and we wondered why New Zealanders had chosen them as their national symbol.  We found they are tough and always on the go.  Their affinity to the human Kiwi made more sense.  They are endangered not because the adults get killed but because the eggs and chicks get attacked by feral cats and possums.  They are an interesting bird that you must see to appreciate.

While in Napier we took in a performance by a New Zealand Army Band.   napband.jpg (32599 bytes)They played Broadway show tunes and Hollywood movie themes.  A little different than you would expect from a US army band.  It was good fun and the locals seemed to enjoy it.

Hastings is not much in itself but it is the gateway to a major growing region of the Hawkes Bay area.  This area has been developing grapes for wine production though the first wineries in the area are over 100 years old.  We were looking for reds and we were disappointed again but New Zealand isn't known for its reds.   The white wines are excellent but we were avoiding them because they don't keep on the boat.  For reds it is best to buy Australian wines and we look forward to touring the wine regions of Australia, unless they are on the west coast.