Tuesday 10th November
Awoke early today to loud birdsong in our remote forest clearing. The camper-mate app suggested that this was a popular spot for walkers, hunters and mountain bikers. The bullet holes in the back wall of the toilet and the adjacent map signboard suggested that the relationship between these groups might not be a convivial one! We were camped next to start of the Grade 5 Te Iringa mountain bike trail. That would explain something about the route we took to get here last night! Certainly a lot further than the stated 4km from the main road!
After enjoying a bit of nature and some breakfast we set off east to continue the drive to Napier for a bit of culture and some wine-tasting.
Lots of people recommended Napier as a nice place and they were quite right. The original town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and it was rebuilt in Art-Deco style. Lots of very attractive buildings, a lovely esplanade planted with Norfolk Pines, plenty of decent cafes and restaurants and loads of friendly kiwis all happy to help make life even better for passing tourists. In the space of a few minutes we had booked our ferry tickets for tomorrow and arranged to hire a tandem to do a cycle tour of Napier and some local wineries.
Pleased with our achievements we celebrated with excellent coffee at Ujazi Cafe (the oldest in Napier) and took advantage of the ubiquitous fast free Wifi to commune with family and friends.
As we sat and 'people watched' we admired the remarkable Art Deco buildings and lots of vintage cars, some privately owned and some for hire to tourists for the Art Deco tour - it looked a brilliant thing to do and something we will return to do when we are older!
Then it was time to give Madge an afternoon off overlooking the sea from under a tree in the car park and acquaint ourselves with Trevor the tandem (Napier City Bike Hire named him, not us!). What a great bike hire place - there wasn't a single question that they didn't answer 'Yes, of course!'.
Our route took us along the beach, behind the container terminal, past the harbour, around the marina, over the bridge, through the wetland bird reserve, down the river and along the road towards the numerous Hawke's Bay wineries. A round trip of about 40km. (In case Barry reads this, we saw New Zealand shovelers, paradise shelducks, royal spoonbills, pied stilts, New Zealand dab chicks, mallard, white-faced heron and black swans).
We chose Church Road Winery in Taradale first as NCBH said they were their favourite. Good choice.
We parked Trevor by some huge lavender bushes in full bloom and wandered to the cellar door across sloping lawns to the porticoed entrance.
Inside the huge lofty building it was cool and welcoming. Large rustic beams and rafters, shelves of wine bottles lining the walls, rows of wine barrels stretching away into the distance - and a bar and restaurant. We were starving and the crispy belly pork, redslaw, broad bean salsa and Arapapa roast potatoes with black pepper mayonnaise was just the job!
We then did some wine tasting. Bill chose the 'Innovation menu' and I chose the 'Providence menu'. After a very enjoyable and informative hour sampling eight of Church Road's finest we could see absolutely no reason to visit any other Wineries! In any case we suddenly realised that we only had an hour to get back to Napier before the hire shop closed at 5.30!
Trevor didn't let us down and it's amazing just how fast two pensioners can pedal a tandem along a cycle path when the spirit moves them!
Back at base (17.29 on the dot) we relinquished Trevor, wheels still smoking and returned to Madge for a bit of a sit down.
Next step was to start the drive south to Wellington ready for tomorrow's ferry at 1.30pm.
Two mugs of strong coffee slipped down very well as we sat on the black pebble beach and watched the world go by.
The drive south was straightforward and after initial bends and glaring sunshine the driving became easier but the scenery still beautiful. At dusk we arrived at our half way point just past Woodville, north of Palmerston.
A conveniently situated riverside freedom campground at Woodville Ferry Reserve was the perfect place to stop, and we parked under an oak tree by the Manawatu River.