My first cluster of days off left me wondering--where should I go now? Taupo is so centrally located that I was overwhelmed by choices but a little seaside town of Napier called to me. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1932 the city was entirely rebuilt in the Art-Deco style of the era.
The drive to Napier was as beautiful as it was treacherous. It snaked through a valley of natural forest along the Mohaka and the Rangateiki (not to be confused with the Rangatiki) Rivers. However, the hairpin turns were slick with rainwater and New Zealand drivers are actually insane. 100km per hour is the speed limit and yet they tail gate you, going 120 or more. I've discussed this with a few Kiwi's and even they are bewildered by the transformation of the laid back, relaxed and calm New Zealander when they hit the road (of course, I am generalizing here. Not all NZ drivers are categorically crazy). Regardless, I survived the drive and made it to the beautiful beach town.
I find that what makes me happiest when I travel is exploring each new city by foot. So I parked far away from the center of town and meandered my way up into the hills overlooking the city. I slowly made my way down to the beach and through the shops.
I like to see the architecture--I like to listen to the sounds of the birds. Are their songs different here? Does this city smell of gum tree and Jasmine or the salt of the sea?
Overall, Napier is a gorgeous and quaint little town and worth checking out. It's near a lot of wineries that I did not explore (however, I heard that Church Road is a must-see if you're into wine)
What to see/Where to Go:
Hapi, NZ: This place was delicious. The lattes were gorgeous and they had an excellent buckwheat sandwich. Also, they were incredibly busy and yet the staff was super positive and kind--always a plus!
Whales Tale Antiques: You can get lost here. Just like Uncommon Objects in Austin, Texas (but with a NZ flair, of course)
Groove Kitchen: This place is also a good spot for a cuppa.