We ‘ate out’ on Thursday morning, which is to say that Jim and Heather kindly gave us breakfast before we set off on our travels. Jim also took us to a classic car museum (this is becoming a bit of a theme for this holiday) run by a friend of his. Yet more wonderful veteran, vintage and more recent vehicles to make the mouth water – apparently New Zealand has the highest ratio of classic vehicles per capita anywhere in the world (again, not a lot of people know that).
Our route north took us past Palmerston North, so called because a South Island town grabbed the name Palmerston first and some way had to be found to differentiate them. According to the Rough Guide an unimpressed John Cleese claimed “If you want to kill yourself but lack the courage, I think that a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick.” The town responded by naming the local rubbish dump after him. We didn’t stop.
Thursday night was spent in the metropolis of Porangahau Beach which is about 60 miles to the south of Hastings. To say that it was quiet would be a bit of an understatement; there was one other vehicle on the (free) camping ground and during our walk down the 10 mile long fabulous beach the next morning we encountered only one other person.
Friday morning we drove up to Napier but stopped to visit Hastings which sits just a little to the south of our destination. Apparently the two towns were hit equally hard by the 1931 earthquake but it was the consequent fires that did much of the damage. Hastings had the good fortune to be sitting on top of a number of artesian wells whereas Napier’s water supply failed during the fire-fighting – as a result the rebuilding task in Napier was much greater and rather more of today’s architecture dates from that period which (according to the books) is a mix of Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical styles. Anyway, both towns now celebrate their Deco heritage but Napier gets the lion’s share of the limelight.
Our arrival in Napier cunningly coincides with their annual Deco Festival when the town’s population and thousands of visitors suddenly step back 85 years, don their flapper dresses, straw boaters and spats, climb into their Packards and Bugattis and paint the town red for a long weekend. More of that in tomorrow’s blog – must dash, got to practise my Black Bottom!