Napier: a step back in time (Part 2)

Kia ora! I’m publishing this blog post in parts cos I’m very lazy with getting around to writing, and it’s less intimidating to finish in parts rather than as a whole. Part 1 is here. 

Our first full day in Napier began with a visit to the MTG, which is a museum, theatre and art gallery all in one.  Although a small place, the quality of displays was high. While the museum focused primarily on Napier’s history pertaining to the earthquake and fire that so defines it today, the gallery featured several other exhibitions. As well as a gorgeous tea and teapot art history display (‘Time for Tea: The Much-Loved Cuppa), my favourite exhibition was ‘Yuki Kihara: Te Taenga Mai o Salome’. Yuki’s work critiques colonialism in both her native Samoa and Hawke’s Bay, and explores the connection of people to sites in these areas, as well as the connection between local tangata whenua and the people of Sāmoa. Portrayed through the media of dance and photography, Yuki’s work is both political and beautiful. ‘He Manu Tīoriori’, a history of local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu’s journey with music from the 20th, through to the 21st century in the museum, is also well worth a look and listen.


An image from ‘Yuhi Kihara: Te Taenga Mai o Salome’


Although it’s easy to get lazy when the weather is bad, we pushed through the lethargy and went for a walk through the city centre to appreciate the Dr-Seuss-like aesthetic some more. I can’t emphasise enough how beautiful it really is, and regret not taking more photos! After a humble lunch of salad sandwiches at home, we went out to the Mission Estate Winery. Mission Estate was the first winery in New Zealand, established in 1851 by French missionaries. Until 1991, the Estate was a Seminary for young Marist priests in training. According to a family friend who ran a dental practice during this time, his nurses thought it was such a shame the hordes of dashing, intelligent, and of course, untouchable young men who trained there insisted on their celibacy! Black and white photographs of the priests-in-training in various states of grape-picking action around the Estate, make it abundantly clear where those poor nurse’s frustrations lay.

The Winery still has a chapel, but is now a religious place only insofar as the wine produced here is divine. Nowadays, wine tastings and fine dining take place to the tune of 130,000 visitors per year. It’s no surprise – a tasting of 4 – 5 wines, with a complimentary glass to take home is just $5. Take the time to wander around the historical building and immaculate grounds overlooking the sloping vine-cloaked hills – it’s a step back in time. In a beautiful homage to those first missionaries, there remains one row of Muscat grapes which have been grafted from the original stock brought to Hawke’s Bay in 1851.  We were saving our pennies for a flash lunch the next day, so swapped the wine tasting here for a coffee out in the courtyard, next to an outdoor heater (which was 100% necessary in the now freezing temperature).


The Mission Estate Winery. Photo not my own. 


By this point, we were absolutely FREEZING, and decided to head to the spa pool recommended to us by our air bnb hosts. The Ocean Spa Pools are a popular pastime for tourists and locals alike here, and for good reason.  As the ocean along Marine Parade is unsafe to swim in, these outdoor pools with the real thing as a backdrop are the next best option.  Featuring a modest lap pool, around five spas at varying temperatures, and the cleanliness so lacking in Auckland pools, it was a calming and warm way to end our day.


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