Thursday 17th December….We left Taupo around 9am and set off south-eastwards towards Hawke’s Bay and the seaside towns of Hastings and Napier.  Along the way we stopped at a scenic lookout point and were treated to the  sight of another waterfall, this time on the Waipunga River in the Ahimanawa mountain range, about halfway between Taupo and Napier.  Once again we had a beautifully sunny and warm day. 


In 1931 a massive earthquake (measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale) obliterated the town of Napier.   As a result, many of the buildings were destroyed and had to be demolished and rebuilt in the architectural style of the times – Art Deco.  Today, Napier  has one of the most outstanding collections of 1930s architecture in the southern hemisphere.


The Hawke’s Bay area, of which Napier and Hastings are the two principal towns, is drier and flatter than many areas of the North Island, and is New Zealand’s premium red wine producing region.  The climate is similar to that of southern France.


Today has mostly been an eating and drinking sort of day for us, starting with carrot and pineapple cake served with creamy cups of coffee and hot chocolate on the morning drive eastwards, and culminating in a wine tasting tour of some of the local vineyards. 


We are staying in an absolutely gorgeous suite of rooms overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  The esplanade is lined with tall Norfolk Pine trees and there is a wide grassy promenade.  Anyway, time to relax now and enjoy a glass of local wine in the huge circular jacuzzi spa pool….CHEERS!!