Day 31

We began our day with the Hawkes Bay Express excursion in Napier, New Zealand. This was an adorable three car train and engine converted from a tractor and owned by a husband and wife team who mortgaged their house to start this business. The train had wheels and travelled on all the local streets at a slow speed without tracks. Will, the owner and engineer, gave commentary throughout the 1 ½ hour tour about the art deco town of Napier and the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit on February 3, 1931.


The town more than doubled in size as the inland lagoon and other areas rose more than 8 feet in less than 3 minutes. The town was levelled and fires soon followed. A navy vessel docked in the harbor and provided much needed help, and 2 more ships arrived the following day with tents, food, and supplies for a makeshift hospital. The 16,000 residents moved into a tin city for 2 ½ years while the town was totally rebuilt in the art deco pre-earthquake style, a feat that could never be done today, with all the permits, approvals, and other red-tape delays. All utilities are underground and buildings are now built to earthquake specs.

We arrived at the port just 15 minutes ahead of our afternoon excursion. Everywhere we have visited thus far, port security has required showing our cruise card and a photo ID. Up until now, photocopies of our passports had been sufficient, since the ship was in possession of our originals. In Napier, the official insisted on official identification, so we and 6 others had to get off of the train and wait for port security to escort us to the ship. It was a bit embarrassing, but as soon as we boarded, Mac went to guest relations to insist on our passport return while I ran to the lounge to check in for our wine tour, Hawkes Bay Wine Trail.

Our tour began at the Moana Park Winery, producer of organic, allergy-free, spray residue free, vegan wines. This is a boutique winery that produces only 24,000 bottles annually and is not sold in stores. We sampled six wines, all of them were quite good. Our driver and guide, Ian, then drove some distance to the Te Mata mountain park. There, we had 360-degree views of Hawkes Bay and the surrounding countryside. It was breathtaking!

We then went to Mission Winery, the oldest in New Zealand, it was started by priests in the 1850’s. As the farm expanded, they built a lovely home with a chapel and bedrooms that is now the main tasting, dining, and sales room. This is a large operation that ships worldwide. We tasted 5 wines here, 3 white and 2 red, took some photos of the vineyards and grounds, and then headed back to the ship, just minutes before departure. We were not worried though, because the ship always waits for tour buses to return, even if they are a bit behind schedule. When we arrived at the port, we saw eight other folks in the security area who also had to be escorted to the ship. Now we could laugh about it. We have our passports through New Zealand and will give them back to the ship staff before we get to Australia.

Tonight was the ½ hour block party again, where we drank wine (not again!) and meet our new neighbors and old friends. The officers came by to shake hands and greet us, too. It was a nice touch.

We ate at the Italian restaurant tonight because they had swordfish again, Mac’s favorite.  We shared a table with Judy and Peter from Perth, Australia and had a wonderful conversation with them. They will be leaving when we arrive in Perth, but suggested all kinds of things we should see there if they are offered.

This was the second show for Kym Purling, the Jazz pianist. He played Cabaret, Feelings, Get Me to the Church on Time, Matchmaker, and other numbers. He had a drummer and guitarist accompany him. They greeted everyone outside the theatre after the show.

Tomorrow we will be in Picton, NZ.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac