An Art Deco Walk

Breakfast was in our lovely apartment opposite the port. No, not the sailing boats and pretty scenes type of port. A working port! The boys are fascinated by the trucks bringing in the logs destined for China?

Then a quick drive up the hill behind us to take in the views. Beautiful. Including the view of the Sky Princess. Yes, a cruise ship is in town.

We booked a 10 am Art Deco Walk. It started with a film about the 1931 earthquake. A real eye opener. Such destruction.

We walked a few blocks of the city in stunning weather. We can’t believe how wonderful the weather is. We were hoping for cooler weather but not so!

The buildings in the Main Street reflect the Art Deco style built after the earthquake. Such lovely pastel colours.

In the following photos see if you can identify the features of Art Deco style.

The sun motive. The fountain. The chevron. The eye brows. The curves. The tall windows. All important features in the styles of Art Deco.

The guide said if we ever get to Santa Barbara we will see similar styles. I could hardly contain myself and NOT tell her my son was getting married there in April!

After the walk we made our way out to Mission Estate Winery. It was built in 1851and is beautifully restored. What a delightful lunch.

Over lunch we planned more adventures with our friends. Is it Oman? Or the Isles of Scilly ? Wherever it is, with these friends it will be fun.

Tomorrow a long drive back to Auckland and the airport. Home tomorrow night.

Vintage Hawkes Bay New Zealand.

The drive from Rotorua to Napier is interrupted by a compulsory stop in Lake Taupo. This huge beautiful lake has a lovely but touristy town centre with lots of chain style restaurants along the waterfront. We didn’t explore much as we wanted to get to Napier early afternoon.

We had a stop at the Huka Falls. Beautiful.

Napier is a mix of wharves and port and industrial and then the most lovely town centre by the sea.

It suffered a terrible earthquake in 1933 which devastated the city. Despite lack of money from insurance companies, the local people with the help and foresight of several business men, rebuilt the whole city – during the depression, and it was done in the most amazing Art Deco style. Power lines were even put underground to allow the street to show off the building design. It’s done in the distinct Art Deco styles. Classical revival, Stripped style, Spanish Mission and Prairie style. It also incorporates Maori Deco style motifs. To read more follow the links.

We arrived in Napier and it was in full flapper swing. The Art Deco long weekend was on. It was the last day and the Great Gatsby picnic had attracted a huge number of people. It was like walking into a movie set. Everyone dressed in the Art Deco , flapper Gatsby style. There were tents all through the park along the foreshore. As we walked along taking photos we passed magnificent cars – Bentley’s, Ford’s “Tin Lizzie”, Rolls, sedans and convertibles. Money on wheels. Some over 100years old. A large number of cars had been brought by their owners from England for the festival. They were in immaculate condition and the owners dressed to the nines.

We walked along the promenade and admired the high teas going on in the tents. We listened to the jazz bands then the navy band, the swing singer and the barber shop quartet. It was so much fun.

By 6 pm we were ready for a small wine and sat at the Art Deco style Masonic Hotel – and wished we were staying there. No wonder it was hard to book accomodation here. We hadn’t realised until recently it was their Art Deco Festival. It’s definitely worth visiting during this time. There are multiple parties, balls and functions to attend, vintage cars rides and everyone – young and old dress up.

The city was alive with colour, action and very friendly people.

And so out to dinner after a long walk along the waterfront. The sunset said it all …………. Magnificent.

Legends of the Lake

New Zealand is full of movie worthy scenery. No wonder so many movies have been filmed here. It’s beautiful and today we saw a few of these scenes.

The Parkers headed off early to get to the Blue Lake in time for warm ups and briefing before David did the 3.5 km Swim.

We went to breakfast at Cafe de Paris and once inside felt we could have been in Paris. Well almost, if it weren’t for the NZ accents everywhere. But the lady running the place, Yvette, hails from Pau in the south where my friend Carmel is spending some of her holidays right now.

The menu had freshly made galettes and I had a bacon and egg one which happily married the French and Aussie tastes together. It was delicious.

We were soon on the streets of Rotorua searching for bananas to eat before the Swim. I’ve learned from Swim trek that a banana before a Swim will keep your energy levels up and the cramping away. Let’s hope it works.

We had time to stop at Whakarewarewa – try saying that out loud. And remember the WH sounds like an F! It is the Maori Living Village. So people live and work in this village which has been set up around the flowing thermal streams and geysers. I last visited here in 1972 with an assortment of relatives and it has changed quite a bit. Straight away I recognised the overpowering smell of sulphur gases. How people live here I don’t know.

Greeting us at the entrance, under the bridge, were three sizeable young boys who were in the creek below calling out ‘throw us some coins Miss, we’ll dive for them!’ Such entertainment. We couldn’t not join in and before long we were tossing them coins and cheering their retrieval.

Walking through the little streets past the homes that still house people, we noticed the burial grounds in and around the houses and the mist of the gases filling the air. The smoke was very thick in some places and you certainly would not want to go into some of the lakes and water holes. It was boiling and bubbling. The smoke was thick and I was getting a free steam facial – something I would regret later!

Back in the car we headed to the Blue Lake driving through a heavily forested area. The Blue Lake is only about 5 km around and because of its make up appears very Blue – yet next to it there is Green Lake. The Blue Lake is is used for waterskiing and there are terraced steps for people to view the action. Very handy for spectators.

The set up for the Swim was great , so professionally run much, better than Steve’s Swim in HK where he went missing and no one seemed to notice!

David came in just after we arrived and he was smiling and feeling fit. He was followed by Nicky, a friend of theirs who had her leg amputated only 4 months ago. What an amazing women. She lost her leg above the knee because of a tumour and she has been back in the water training from about 6 weeks after the amputation.

Finally it was time for me to get into the wet suit. What a struggle. Chris had decided he would do the Swim – the cold was ok and it looked so lovely. So we went for a warm up swim then had the briefing. All was good. I felt great.

A few minutes later and off we went. The adrenaline was kicking in and I got a good start. Chris took off and left me in his wake. After a few minutes I started to feel my breathing struggle. I kept on. I stopped again. I couldn’t breathe properly. I was wheezing and starting to struggle. Two lovely ladies stopped and asked if I was ok and offered to swim with me. But after a while I knew I couldn’t , so I met Billie. He was a lovely young lifesaver on a paddle board. I told him my problem and he offered to paddle me back. I stayed in the water, hung on to the back of his board and and made it back. I was weak and struggling to breathe. A complete mystery.

After some discussion it was suggested that some people have a reaction to sulphur gases. I think I was one of them.

Such disappointment. I felt silly. But I knew I couldn’t complete it.

Fortunately Kim had a puffer and after a few puffs I was relieved a little. Chris Wilson defended his gold medal from last year. He did a very good 18 min for the 1km. Great swimming Chris.

After the celebrations we took off for a drive to the Green Lake and Lake Tarawera.

Back into Rotorua and a walk through the Government parks before dinner at the Garden Kitchen. The gardens have a magnificent set of entrance gates. They look like metal but are actually timber.

What a great place for dinner. The Parkers daughter Alysa and her husband Adam have just moved to Rotorua so they joined us for dinner. Beautiful dinner and great cocktails.

There was a free concert in the park opposite the restaurant. As we left to walk home the fireworks started – then stopped – then started again. Thanks Kim & David for the great fireworks!

Auckland to Rotorua

It’s funny to have to come to a motel in NZ to see our first bit of the Winter Olympics. We can’t get Channel 7 at home so have missed all the action, apart from the headlines on Ch 2 news. So last night when we got to the motel we watched for awhile before sinking into the beautiful bed at the Bucklands Beach Motel.


Feeling refreshed we woke to brilliant blue skies and warm temperatures, so set off around the bay towards the Marina for breakfast. Such a lovely walk passing the fit, the fast on cycles, the strollers, the standup paddle boarders and a few swimmers in the bay.
We reached the Marina with a big collection of yachts with the usual assortment of funny names.
Realising we wouldn’t make it back to the motel for our pick up by the Wilsons and Parkers we sent out an SOS to come to the Marina. It really was an SOS because on arrival in NZ I haven’t been able to get a carrier to get phone reception. I can get onto wifi though –  so fortunately could send a message via whatsapp.
They collected us, we picked up our luggage and we were on our way in convoy towards Rotorua.
It’s such a pretty drive. NZ really has such lush green rolling hills and mountains.
You can see how much rain they have had.
We stopped for lunch near Hobbiton House in Matamata. A lovely little town.

Then another hour and we arrived in Rotorua.

First impressions. Yes a little smelly but not overpowering!
Lovely big trees down the Main Streets. Spa baths scattered around the town and some really lovely buildings. And lots of timber. The areas surrounding here are heavily treed so there’s no shortage of timber.

We walked to the lake, past the Museum which is closed due to renovations, strolled past statues to famous New Zealanders (not Rugby players)

We even saw the black swans.


Dinner was at the Brew Bar – one of the lively places lining the Street called Eat St.

Ear Street

Kim, David and Steve on the hunt for a good wine!

Its a great place full of bars and restaurants and is loud and noisy and has an array of craft beers and good NZ wines.

Not wanting to have a big night before our swim we strolled back to our hotel and drew the curtains trying to keep the sulphate smell outside.

Tomorrow morning we’ll visit the Living Maori  Village and check out the geysers before heading to the Blue Lake to see David finish his 3.5 km Swim, and then wait for my Swim to take off at 1.30.

Ki Ora: welcome to New Zealand

779B8097-8378-4664-9069-39BCCF08BE45We love our mini breaks and visiting our swim trek friends in NZ is one of our favourites.
For the past few years we have taken the easy 3 hour flight on Emirates’ 380 to Auckland to meet up with Kim & David Parker. We travel with our friends Chris & Jill Wilson and started the journey with Moët at the airport. It may only be 7.30am but it’s a great way to start our holiday.
We landed at around 3 pm picked up our hire car and headed towards Mellons Bay where Kim & David have a lovely home with spectacular views across their garden to the water.

This year the Wilsons are staying with them in the house and due to shortage of rooms it was our turn  to book into a nearby motel at Buckland’s Beach. It’s such a pretty spot we’ll look forward to a walk around the bay tomorrow.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sharing lovely NZ wines, a wonderful tapas plate and lots of chat and laughs.

Swimming has taken us to many places around the world and made us many new friends. We swam with the Parkers & Wilsons in Greece in 2014 and so we started our little mini breaks to ‘ have a swim’ followed by a bit of sightseeing in a different party of the country.
Last year we swam in Pahia (look back at those posts) and visited the Bay of Islands. The year before a local swim in Auckland followed by the Coromandel Peninsula.

This year we are swimming the Blue Lake near Rotorua. We’re very excited as lake swimming is beautiful. The downside is that our party of swimmers is decreasing due to injury or illness. Steve has a shoulder problem requiring an op in a few weeks. Kim has an eye problem after having had a detached retina. Jill has had stitches in her head and can’t go in the water and Chris has a heavy cold. So it looks like David & I! If I can fit into the wet suit!

So stay tuned for news of our adventures as we drive south to Rotorua – city of smells!