Taking the scenic route to the east coast…..
After a restful day in Ohakune following our walk, Tuesday dawned bright and we were on the road again. Having booked a room in a little hotel in central Napier for the following 2 nights, we chose to take the scenic route to get there.
The Manawatu route is an alternative to Stage Highway 1 (SH1), moving between highways and rural landscapes. Whilst we didn’t stop to do any of the short walks along the way, we did take breaks to admire some of the vistas and discover hidden places and tucked away treasures like St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church at Komako. At Apiti, woodwork artist Errol Mackay has been creating beautiful pieces for over 20 years. We were privileged to have him show us around his display of clocks, mirrors, candle holders and wooden eggs.
Napier – the town of the Charleston and art deco…..
Napier is famous for a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was razed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It also has one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country, a statue on Marine Parade called Pania of the Reef. Thousands of people flock to Napier every February for the Tremains Art Deco Weekend event, a celebration of its Art Deco heritage and history.
Many of the restaurants are decorated in art deco style and play music from Charlie Chaplin movies and dance halls where everyone would’ve been enjoying the Charleston.
Encompassing the city and taking in some of the Bay’s most spectacular scenery, Napier’s Pathway is used by walkers, joggers, cyclists, baby buggies, roller bladers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. It is very popular with locals and it is attracting growing numbers of visitors keen to take in Napier’s many attractions on foot or by bike.
The Napier City Council’s BIKE IT strategy was launched in 2002 with a vision to develop a network of paths. Easily-accessed and well-formed routes extend along the coast from the northern suburb of Bay View, skirting around Napier’s bustling original port to track the Ahuriri wetland foreshore and continue round the Marine Parade foreshore. They also take in parts of the central city. Where possible, the Pathway has evolved to incorporate existing paths, beach frontages and riverbanks. Generally, the paths are a generous 2.5-3.5m wide.
The landscape – whether natural or formed – is very much part of the pleasure of the cycling and walking experience. The terrain on the Pathway is flat, making for an easy 30km cycle from the city down to Clifton. Unfortunately, the extremely strong head wind meant that the cycle back was not nearly as pleasant, particularly as we passed the fertiliser plant and were showered in muck from the piles of rubble.
After a hard day’s cycle and nothing to eat since our scone for breakfast, we were glad to find somewhere that would serve us food at 3pm. The kitchens of most cafes had closed an hour earlier!