More North Island New Zealand: Napier and Wellington March 7 – 11 2016

We’re sorry that some pictures are turned sideways, depending on your viewing medium. Enjoy our adventures, even if they’re skewed. 
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We arrived in Napier and were picked up at the station by John who was taking us around for an informative city tour.  Napier is a community that was destroyed and recreated by a 1931 earthquake. The entire city was rebuilt in Art Deco style and architecture.  Hundreds of buildings have this common theme.
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There were also art deco murals murals around the town
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Our hotel was directly across from the beach. We woke up early to watch the sun rise.  There was an arch built to capture the millennium sunrise. We captured it too.
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 After breakfast, we set off for a wine tour of the Hawke’s Bay region. At Mission winery  we saw workers picking the first grapes of the season. It was the end of their summer with fall right around the corner.
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At Church R0ad Winery we tasted wine right from the barrel and we had a wine and food pairing as a part of the experience.  It is amazing how much better some wines taste when paired with the right cheese, fruit or protein.
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We had a nice dinner near our hotel where we met Ana and Edmund, a couple from Malaysia we had met on our wine tour earlier that day. We woke up to another  beautiful sunrise and took a walk to see the public gardens which had a man-made waterfall.
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 The NZ aquarium was right across the street from our hotel.  We saw penguins that had been rescued and rehabilitated , a great sea turtle exhibit, and a pair of kiwi.
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We were on the bus at 1 pm for the 5 hr journey to Wellington. We got into Wellington in the evening and to our city hotel.  In the morning we took a cable car that rode high above the city.
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From there we connected to a shuttle to see Zealandia, a nature reserve built by the city at an old reservoir site.  It is surrounded by a long stretch of fence walk designed to keep out cats, stoats, possums and rodents, all of which are introduced species that have decimated the New Zealand native wildlife. We saw many shag (cormorant) & a nest with  shag babies. There was a takahe,  a native New Zealand bird that is almost extinct, a saddleback bird, black parrots,  a tuatara , a reptile only found in New Zealand that is  descendant of the dinosaurs and a huge insect called a weta.
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image                                                                              A shag nest with babies
image                                                                                                 a takahe ; looks like a  small dodo bird
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                                                                                                 a weta
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We had dinner by the harbour.As we walked around the harbour we saw this great statue hanging over the water.
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We met Hunter Bell for breakfast.  Hunter was in Wellington from his NYC home on business.  Since we weren’t able to see him when he was last in Atlanta, it was great fun to see him here.
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 We set off to the Seal Coast for a tour. We passed by wind turbines & deer on private farm property
Hank fed bread to some of the deer. We rode over rocky and bumpy terrain to reach the area where seals were lounging. It was incredibly windy . We now know why it’s called windy Wellington!
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We then visited the Te Papa Museum and saw an incredible exhibit called Gallipoli (the WW1 battle in Turkey in which hundreds of NZ solders were killed). The group at WETA Workshop (think Lord of The Rings) prepared the exhibit in which the altogether lifelike models of the soldiers and nurses depicted were about twice human size.
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We walked around the harbor and saw a fun steampunk amusement park from Barcelona with a Ferris wheel set up with toilet seats . It was a part of the New Zealand Arts Festival . Thanks for letting us know about it Hunter!
We were up early the next day to catch the ferry to Picton – on to the South Island  of New Zealand