October 30, 2016
As we approached Napier, the scenery turned quickly into vineyards and hop farms. Napier is known for its wineries, so we passed dozens of them on our way into the town. We were eager to get to our destination, as Napier was a quick stop for us on this trip. We arrived in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel (the only "hotel" we stayed in the whole trip, actually), then took a quick walk around town to enjoy the architecture that Napier is known for.
The whole city/town of Napier is built in the "art deco" style. Walking around the town feels like being in the 1920's or 30's. The city was levelled in the early 1930's by an earthquake, which required most of the buildings to be rebuilt and therefore led to the uniform architectural style. Most businesses in the city embrace that style, most notably the hotel we stayed in: the "Art Deco Masonic Hotel."
The hotel was built in the 1860s, destroyed by a fire in the 1890s, rebuilt within the same decade, burnt down again in the 1930's (side effect of the earthquake that leveled much of the city), and rebuilt again two years later. It's been through a lot, but you really can't tell by looking at it. The whole hotel is true to 1930's style, and was really cool to stay in. The building also housed a restaurant where we had one of our more memorable dinners.
Following dinner we walked over to a nearby Irish pub, where we happened to find a group of 7 or 8 locals sitting around a table and playing traditional Irish songs. This was something I had never seen before-- a musical performance right in the middle of a restaurant as opposed to on a stage somewhere. We sat and enjoyed a few more beers (hooray beer) while we listened, and ended up meeting a few fellow Americans who were visiting from Wisconsin.
We stayed until the band called it a night, then headed to bed ourselves. The next day we had to wake up pretty early, since we had to catch a ferry in Wellington if we wanted to get to the South Island.