Bex had recommended that we stop in Greytown en route to Napier. It's a lovely little historical town with stylish shops and a heritage/settlers museum. We got some bread, cheese and meat and ate al fresco at a picnic spot near the road. We also stopped at a Paua (Maori word for abalone) shop and I bought a nice pair of earrings and a hairclip.
We arrived in Napier after dark and went to at least 4 hostels before settling for the warmest, quietest spot with an en suite. We've become quite fussy about where we stay as we have a lot more choice in NZ than we had in Australia. Also, as most places are empty, sometimes they don't put the heating on or they have limited facilities. Apparently, during the peak Summer months, it's hard to find accommodation if you haven't booked in advance, so we're quite lucky we decided to travel to NZ out of season.
As we arrived late and were too tired to cook, we took a quick wander into town. Dinner was at a Kiwi restaurant franchise called the Lone Star - good value and good quality food - the way it should be!
The next morning was greeted by more sunshine. Took a walk along the beachfront promenade followed by a swim in the outdoor heated saltwater swimming pools and thermal baths. Afterwards, took a brisk walk around town and looked at some of the amazing Art Deco buildings which have been very well preserved.
Napier suffered a catastrophic earthquake in the 1920's but rose out of the rubble, like the proverbial phoenix out of the ashes, and re-invented a new look and feel and is now known as the Art Deco capital of New Zealand! It certainly has a charming seaside feel - almost like being back in the UK - complete with OAP's, pebble beach and fish & chip shops (except Napier has more alot more trees).
Feeling rejuvenated and, having worked up an appetite, we drove around the famous Hawke's Bay wine region. Te Awa estate came highly recommended and we stopped there for a delicious lunch (and, of course, couldn't resist the offer to try some of their wines). I ate a sublime Goan fish curry whilst overlooking the sun-filled vineyards.