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Published: December 9th 2002
Napier was destroyed in 1931 by a large earthquake, the town was quickly rebuilt in the style of the time, Art Deco. Napier is now renowned as one of the world’s best examples of Art Deco architecture. For $2 from the visitors centre a map of the town with descriptions of the best buildings can be bought. Following this leads you round the town in a couple of hours. I tried to take a photo of every building on the map, but can’t remember which building is which now.
I stayed in Stable Lodge Backpackers, a really nice little place. With free Internet use, the first since San Francisco.
I went to Cape Kidnappers with Sandra and Cheika from Germany and Japan. Cape Kidnappers is so named because when Captain Cook set anchor there and went ashore the local Maori’s tried to kidnap the cabin boy. Nowadays the Cape is renowned for its gannet colony. From the car park to the furthermost point on the cape is 8km, along craggy shore line, only accessible at low tide. To make the walk it is necessary to leave no later than 3 hours after high tide, the chart on the wall
in the hostel listed that I was shown listed the times. So we left at 9am, started walking, didn’t get very far, the tide was still really high and it wasn’t possible to walk more than about 2km. I was sure that I had got the times right. Checked that the tide was going out by putting a large rock at the very furthest reach of a big wave and waited 10mins. No waves touched the rock, the tide was going out. So we waited and waited, after about an hour we saw another walker in the distance. So I tried walking around and over the rocks on the shoreline. By walking slowly and carefully and climbing a little we could get another few kilometres.
Eventually we made it to the gannet colony. A sign said “Please walk carefully and quietly to avoid disturbing the nesting gannets”, so we walked quietly and carefully. Guided parties on tractor-trailers with guides with loud speakers appeared noisily from behind. Any possible noise that walkers could make was well and truly drowned out by the noise from these parties. The sign seemed somewhat pointless. Ropes kept the visitors back from the nesting gannets,
but the gannets seemed happy only a metre from the visitors, once again I felt like I was in a wildlife documentary. Gannets swooped in from the sky baring gullets of fish for the hungry chicks. Landed and were greeted by the ground based partner, clacking of beaks and rubbing of necks proceeded by the feeding of the chick. Some times a unmated or nestless gannet would land in the middle of the colony and be stabbed and chased by very protective parents, the harried gull would make its way to the edge of the colony to feel sorry for itself. Usually these were the juvenile gulls, they would be nesting the following years.
After a hard days walk I went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the cinema. Nice little movie, still waiting for Lord of the Rings so it would have to do. Was surprised how similar it was to the original movie. I’m still reading the book in Spanish, it’s taking me a very very long time, page 3 after 3 months.
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