chilling feet

chilling feet

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Friends in Napier and Coromandel Peninsula

(Sheep skins tanning in the sun as just one part of the process)
We have been hearing things about Napier since we moved to New Zealand.  Everything from "it's one of the sunniest places in NZ" to "it is hands down the best place in NZ to live."  It was a fascinating city for certain, especially due to the architecture of the city.  In 1931 the Napier was demolished by a devastating earthquake and when the city rebuilt a good portion was done in the popular at the time Art Deco style model.  So now when walking around the city there is this "old days" Hollywood feel to the street and buildings.  Just this one little aspect of Napier really gives it a unique atmosphere.

(Sarah snaps a shot of us checking out some Napier delights at The Filter Rm)
One reason we were most excited to visit Napier, at the particular time when it worked into our trip, was the recent arrival of our friends Polly and Mel.  Friends from Invercargill, they had just decided to move up to the Napier area and had only been there a few days.  So we not only got to see a great NZ city but we already had friends there ready to go see it with us!  Everything is better with friends as +Miriam Williamson and +Gordon Paulson taught us.

So we traveled around Napier and tried to check out as much as we could with our short amount of time.  As seen from the first picture, we went to a wool factory where sheep skins are made ready to sell to the public.  As it happens, Napier is the largest wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere.  Sarah was interested in seeing the process and encouraged the rest of us to check it out, and as usual she was right to get us there. The entire process was amazing to watch, seeing a rugged and dirty sheep skin turn into a soft and fluffy delight.

(Proudly displaying our sampler trays!)
(Check out the view from Te Mata Peak in Napier - it was amazing there)
Napier is known for a lot of different things but outside of wool the main thing we honed in on is the amount of wine making that goes on in the region.  So naturally we took it upon the four of ourselves to make sure we knew how the wines of this region compare to other NZ wines. It was really a matter of principle when you stop to think about it. It would be terrible when we mention visiting Napier and someone says, "How was the wine" if we had nothing to say in return.  This way we can give a thorough answer!  So we hit up as many wineries as possible in one day, and ate some delicious seafood in the evening. Napier is right on the water!!

(The atmosphere of the Purangi Winery - stellar feel to the place)
Napier was a beautiful area (as you can see from the next photo) and we were sad to leave our friends, but we needed to head on and drive up to the Coromandel Peninsula.  We knew the area was full of beautiful sites and we were excited to see them.  In line with our recent Napier visit, we had been told by Miriam and Gordon we must not miss experiencing the Purangi Winery, which is so much more than just a winery. We arrived just as evening was setting in and were met by Danny who is really the main reason to visit.  Danny allowed us to try every single varying beverage he makes on their property, the whole time going on and on about random facts of life, the meanings of certain words, explaining every fact he's ever learned about feijoas (it's a feijoa farm), and tons of other bits of info.  He spoke so fast it was difficult to follow but we certainly learned a lot!  When we were done tasting his concoctions we topped off the night by walking over to his restaurant side of the building where he made us a superbly wonderful oven fire pizza - sooooo goooood!!  Dinner at his place along with everything else put us in the perfect mindset to head on and find our place to sleep that night in Cooks Beach.

(Cathedral Cove, named for this cathedral like rock formation)
(Hugging a Kaori Tree - we made it almost halfway around)
The rest of our time in the Coromandel Peninsula was spent taking in all of the wonderful outdoor scenery, and there are plenty of sites to see!  The mysteriously gripping Cathedral Cove (in the pic to the right), beautiful beaches galore, a trip down the ancient route 309 to see the Kauri grove, and then a short amount of time spent in Coromandel Town before heading towards Auckland. The Kauri grove ended up being one of our favorite spots in the area, after the Purangi Winery of course.  The Kauri are old trees with a fascinating history and they have the ability to live thousands of years!  Their wood is apparently amazing to work with and creates some of the best furniture.  We will actually have a later post that will talk a lot more about the Kauri trees.

The trip to Napier and the Coromandel Peninsula was a fun part of our North Island Blitz adventure.  Both areas had unique feels and New Zealand never fails to deliver on the goods.  There are a few more pics down below from the area.  Enjoy and get ready for the next post on Fiji!!

(One of the wineries used this guy as an attention grabber.  It is actually water fit and sailed the seas some!)
(Elephant Hill Winery in the Napier area had this amazing sculpture out front) 
(The area around Napier is ridiculously beautiful!  The views from Te Mata Peak were definitely worth it)
(I love this pic of Sarah - looks like she's dancing)
(One of the wineries we visited.  They knew what they were doing in the Napier region) 
(Random waterfalls on the way. It was so fun just finding places like this and pausing to enjoy their graces)
(Purangi Winery from the outside.  Apparently I was so excited I sprinted in ahead of Sarah)
(Candle lit dinner where we ate our delicious pizza)
(The views from the Coromandel Peninsula were abundant!) 
(On the walk down to the Cathedral Cove)
(The Cathedral Cove from a different angle.  I like all of the signs to watch out for falling rocks)
(The weather has done a number on the rocks around this area.  This one looked really cool)
(One of the Kauri Trees.  Such majestic trees)
(The trail on the way to the Kauri grove.  I kept thinking of how much fun it would be to run on this trail.  It went for miles in a few different directions)
(Siamese Kauri Trees)