Napier, what a lovely town, and not what I was expecting at all. As we approached it, you could see the lovely turquoise sea along the coastline, and with the sun still beating down we could have been in a mediterranean resort! The sea looked very inviting until we saw the huge waves that were rolling in - apparently caused by a cyclone in the tropics. Not thinking anything of this we set off for our first activity which was to see the world's largest mainland gannet colony at Cape Kidnapper's. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for!!!
'Gannet Adventures' is a tour operator that does trips to see the gannet colony where you are driven along the beach, infront of the the cliffs in a trailer which is towed by a tractor, the idea being to do the trip whilst the tide is out. We were informed that the trip had been cancelled on the previous two days due to a stormy weather front coming in over the ocean but today they were going to have a go and we would just have to see how far we got, very reassuring! So off we set, not quite sure what to expect, 3 tractors and trailers in tow, trundling off towards the beach. Upon reaching the beach we soon found out what they were talking about, there were huge waves rolling in and they were going to attempt to drive through these waves, dodging them where they could, along the cliff fronts to the gannet colony and then get us back before the tide came back in! To cut a long story short, 1hr later having got off and on the trailer several times when it got stuck in the wet sand, each time the waves getting closer or so it seemed, and the whole idea of this tour becoming more of a joke, all of us slightly anxious by this stage, the tour guides finally decided to call it a day and to head back again!! You've got to give it to the kiwi's, they will certainly give things a go in a sort of 'gun ho' fashion, but maybe this time with 3 trailer loads full of people and a stormy weather front movement coming in, not such a good idea!! So back we went, very relieved but also slightly upset that after all that effort we hadn't made it to the gannet colony!!
The next day, never ones to give up easily, Mum and me decided to have another go at attempting to get to this colony, but this time we would try the overland rought!! And this time we made it!!! A fantastic trip with 'Gannet Safaris', amazing scenery, a lovely and very information female guide, and not forgetting the fascinating gannent colony!! Well worth the effort!!! Peter opted out of the 2nd gannent attempt and chose to do a guided tour around Napier instead taking in the Art Deco architecture of the town. In 1931 Napier was dramatically changed when a distrastrous earthquake virtually destroyed it. The town was then rebuilt in the Art Deco style of that era, and many buildings of this Art Deco style can still be seen around Napier.
After a 5hr drive from Napier we got to Wellington and soon realised why it is sometimes called 'windy Wellington'!! We could certainly feel the temperature change from the warmer weather we had left earlier in Napier! Wellington as a city is a lot livier than Auckland (which is supposed to be more populated), and always seems to have something going on. We only really had one full day there so weren't able to cover off that much but we did manage to take the cable car up the steep incline to the Botanic Gardens for some classic photo opportunities over the city. Then out of nowhere there was an extreme sudden change in the weather - one minute glorious sunshine, the next a fierce rain and hail storm which just came out of nowhere. Luckily we were near a cafe which we took refuge. We then spent the rest of the afternoon hiding away from the rain in Te Papa which is one of NZ's largest museum and a bit of a national institution.
Now we cross over to the South Island!