Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 13: Napier

Day 13: Napier

NZ Facts: Population by ages
0-14 years: 20.5% (male 447,703/female 425,395)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 1,416,259/female 1,411,174)
65 years and over: 13% (male 251,987/female 299,759) (2010 est.)

NZ protects itself from unwanted immigration fiercely, and they seem to also be doing a good job of keeping those over 65s to a manageable level. Same same but different?

Pics: the first few are near the Craggy Range Winery, and all the rest are from the visit to the gannet rookery at Cape Kidnapper.

We wander into downtown Napier for a pastry and flat white breakfast, and order three muffins. PASTRY ALERT: DO NOT ORDER THE BACON AND CORN MUFFIN FOR BREAKFAST! A dud…the passionfruit topped muffin and the apple and rhubarb muffin are ok, the flat whites very good. $16

After figuring out an art destination to go with wine tasting, we head south to small towns of Clive, Havelock and Hastings. The Hastings art gallery, supposedly closed if you believe their website, is open and has a few unusual items in the Maori exhibition, and a bit of graduate work.

Then, as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Or, is it when the going gets tough, the tough gird up their loins. Or maybe, if the temperature hits 90 with high humidity, stop whining? So, we decide to self-medicate and go wine tasting at Hawke’s Bay wineries.

And, we hear that the Bay Area is also having record heat, so we can’t even tell people here in NZ about that great cool winter weather we’ve left behind.

We visit a few wineries, and THB still thinks that while this area is known for its reds, it is better at making white wines. We buy a few each of white and red and then decide to eat lunch at a very nice place located at the Craggy Range winery, Terrior (NOT a typo, pronounced Terwa in Maori and French and NZ English…), and share a smoked salmon (the chunky kind, not lox) flatbread and an endive salad with pear and Roquefort and walnuts. Excellent, $32, with a great view (outside seating, in shade) of Te Mara Peak (see pic).

After lunch, we have booked a tour to see the gannet rookeries 30km south of Napier. A large van takes 16 of us up a torturous mountain road to enter a private enclave, owned by a billionaire who has put up a lodge and golf course. He has granted access to this tour company, and thus we can go in a/c style. The alternative was taking a 4WD tractor (with no covering) for 4 hours along the beach, including a 20 minute walk in the heat up the mountain to see the gannets. Our loins are now girded with wine just not that girded. We opt for the covered a/c no walking tour for a few extra dollars: $52/person. Well worth it!

At first entry, the guide explains that the area surrounding the enclave (The Farm at Cape Kidnapper is the lodge, and the golf course is called Cape Kidnappers), and a few other nearby ranches, basically the entire peninsula, has been sectioned off and protected by a special fence (see pic) to discourage predators of endangered bird species for gaining access to the conservation-created area. They have also placed special traps all around the area, both sides of the fence, to capture stoats, feral cats, possums, etc.

Of course, that means they now have an increasing number of rabbits inside the fence. They are hoping that the kiwis, brown teal ducks, and several other bird species will somehow regenerate to sustainable numbers. Oh, and they better keep the fence gates closed, something the guide noted is not always done!

The rookery is fascinating; see the pics to note how close we were able to get to the birds and fledglings (from a few days old to 10 weeks). A great tour! And, we’re back in 3 hours, minimal sun exposure, minimal walking, and time spent with a very good guide in conditions where we could hear easily.

Back for THB’s late afternoon dip in the Pacific. Very refreshing, can the water be colder than yesterday?

THB has a few dinner requirements: we not sit in the sun and if at all possible we face east. DB delivers, we end up at the Mission Estates Winery, eating al fresco, and tasting more wines: green salad, Caesar salad (with something like romaine lettuce except not), paella made with Israeli couscous (too sweet), and pork loin with raspberries in the veggies (too sweet), espresso ice cream with mini-biscotti, and two glasses of chardonnay and one each of sauvignon blanc (pretty nice) and syrah (not so good). $100

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