After a twisty-turny drive from Taupo, no one was feeling their finest upon arriving to Napier. Fortunately for Laurel and Olivia, this feeling subsided once on solid ground. However Greg’s illness was not due to motion sickness. His was extreme dehydration from the previous day, which turned into a fever and required lots of sleep. He is not a champion alpine hiker. He stuck it out long enough to check out the Art Deco city of the world during the annual Art Deco festival. Imogen put on her fancy dress and bow, and she was pretty excited.
The story behind Napier is that in 1931 a devastating earthquake leveled the city and killed over 500 people. The town center was completely destroyed. Upon rebuilding, the city planners decided to use the tragedy as an opportunity, creating a unique city constructed in the 1930's art deco style. As such, Napier now calls itself the "Art Deco Capital of the World," and has a lot of awesome downtown buildings like this. Laurel, needless to say, was pretty excited.
We completely lucked out with the timing of this trip. Turns out we managed to arrive on the last day of Napier's annual Art Deco Festival, which is the city's biggest weekend of the year. Everyone was dressed up in their 1930’s attire with tents, champagne, and candles (similar to high tea). It was very impressive – kind of like football tailgating with class. Displayed on the streets were fancy old-timey cars that had to be worth an inordinate amount of money, especially in New Zealand.
Everyone was dressed in their finest, including this adorable little girl.
This is how you have a picnic on the beach next to your old car. With tablecloths.
An old steam engine had been set up, which Imogen thought was just the coolest thing ever... until the engine's horn blew, and then it was a terrible, scary contraption.
Laurel and Olivia enjoying the gardens and beautiful sunny day. Aren't they pretty?
Last but not least, there was a flyover of the Napier township and coastline by five bi-planes. Awesome.
After that, Greg felt like he was going to die, so he went back to the hotel to sleep. Laurel and Olivia took Imogen to the pool. She loved it!
Since Napier was on the coast, Olivia had been looking forward to hitting the beach. She was less excited when she got there. Napier is not known for its beaches. We stuck to the pool instead.
Napier is also the home of New Zealand's National Aquarium, and since Greg was feeling significantly better after a night's sleep and drinking approximately 124 glasses of water, we hit it up. Worth it just for the mandatory baby in the jaws of a shark picture.
Imogen was pretty impressed by everything. She was more into looking at the fish then we thought she would be. Don't worry Imogen, you'll be seeing this movie a lot in a few years.
The coolest thing was the giant sea turtle. If we hadn't carried her off, I think she would still be sitting there watching Mr. Turtle swim back and forth.
Napier is apparently still milking Finding Nemo for all it's worth.
At the end was the coolest part, a movable walkway that went through the shark tank. Imogen was a little nervous having that many fish around her, but pretty impressed.
In summary, Napier was a pretty cool little town, but we're very glad we got to see it during the Art Deco Festival. Got to see it at it's best, and we had a blast. This finished up our North Island tour, and the next day we would be flying to the South Island starting in Christchurch.