The jounrey from Taupo to Napier took just 2 hours and was a stunning jounrey, really rurual, very mountanous and lots of sheep everywhere! A lovely wew guy called 'Wiki' from Taiwan was on my bus, and has been on nearly every bus I have had here in New Zealand so far and we were randonly booked into the same hostel. He is hilarious!! Constantly carries this crazy over sized bright red chill cool bag thing around with lots of rice and noodles in it!! He really is a funny but lovely wee guy, amazed and saying 'WOW' at literally everything he sees or hears - about literally anything!! So I spent my 2 days in Napier with Wiki, grinning away to myself at things he was saying or doing the whole 2 days! Crazy to hear about his chinese friends who live in China and the very strict regime the government have there, they monitor all internet use and searches..facebook is banned, looking at news and politics is banned etc. Very scary in this day and age indeed. Taiwan are independent from China (my geography knowledge is awful as you know!!) but all Taiwanese young men have to join the army for a few years when they leave school...the Taiwan people are very on guard and aware that they need to have the trained men and weapons to be able to defend themselves at any given time, if needs be...scary!!
Anyway, enough of my Geography and politics lesson from Wiki!!
Napier is just GEORGEOUS!! It is known as the 'art deco' capital of New Zealand. It sufferred a really bad earthquake back in 1931 (making the town 40 sq km larger!) and following the damage caused by this, the town had to be largely rebuilt. And so the popular style at the time was art deco style with spanish and classic themes...it was also cheap to build and sturdy, incase of another quake. So the town has these georgeous pastel coloured buildings, palm tree lined streets, fountains, zig zag shapes, a marina area etc. Making it a lush place to just wander around and take in the architecture, even if like me you dont really know anything about architecture at all! So I did alot of that...wandering around, taking photos, enjoying the sun and admiring this affluent charismatic little sea side town.
My accomodation in Napier was great, called 'The Stables Lodge' and is an old converted horses stables. Excellent cheap wee place with free internet, free towels and free duvet! Yes, in New Zealand, much to my disgust you sometimes have to pay extra if you want a duvet!! So everyone staying in the hostel really liked it.
I had 3 nights in Napier, so spent half my time walking around and taking in the buildings...and the other half at vineyards! Yes...more my kind of thing!! The wine tours looked excellent but are quite pricey so Wiki and I got some insider tips from our hostel owner and set off on the bus to Church Road, outside of Napier where we went to 2 free wineries...yes free..firstly 'Church Road' and then 'Mission House'. We got to sample maybe 5 wines in each, so that was lovely and I bought a nice bottle of Pinot Gris in Mission House to take to Emily and Matts for Christmas. The views around the vineyards were just stunning though, Mission House is the oldest winery in New Zealand, established in 1851. It is set up this massive long tree lined, dead straight lane way...so lovely, definitely worth a visit. Wiki and I did a lovely walk aroundsome of the vineyards also, up a mountain with some great views and found some friendly goats which we were able to feed some nice big tasty leaves by hand haha!!
Tomorrow is 23rd December and I will head off on the bus to Wellington, at the very south of the north island where I am due to spend Christmas with my friends Emily and Matt and their georgeous baby boy Jac. I am so so excited to see them, they emigrated to New Zealand 3 months ago and it will be amazing to spend time with them, even more so at Christmas!! After all my problems with the buses here though I am so paranoid the bus wont turn up or something, if I dont get to Wellington for Christmas I will cry! Fingers crossed...!