Tag: Restaurant

Art Deco

Art Deco

Napier, New Zealand – December 16, 2016

Almost exactly one year ago, Leslie and I came to Napier.  It was our first trip in New Zealand.  We returned in 2016 with Leslie’s mom, Lorraine.

On the drive to Napier, we stopped in the town of Pahiatua for lunch. We selected The Black Stump Café. That was the same place Leslie and I had eaten in the previous trip. At the door to the café we some dirty gumboots. It was a friendly local custom to take off one’s muddy footwear before entering the restaurant.
Leave your gumboots outside.

We also returned to our favorite Napier accommodation, The Pebble Beach Motor Inn. We got a room on the third floor with a view of Hawke’s Bay. That was a beautiful place for afternoon cocktails.

Directly across from the motel is the beach.  Unfortunately, it is not a friendly beach; it is deadly.  The rip currents are treacherous there.  Many have met their end when trying to swim at that beach.  Even though one cannot go into the water, it is still relaxing to stroll along or sit upon the shore.

About one block away from the motel is the National Aquarium of New Zealand.  On the exterior of the building are several murals.  I found the one with the octopus to be particularly mesmerizing.  Maybe that is because of the octopus escape from that very aquarium in April 2016.

Mural on the side of the National Aquarium.

Adjacent to the National Aquarium is a water fountain. One of the three sections has three nozzles spraying water. During the night the spray is lit. Leslie and I walked over one evening and watched as the lights changed colors.

Fountain near the National Aquarium.
Fountain near the National Aquarium.
Fountain near the National Aquarium.
Fountain near the National Aquarium.

The following day, Lorraine was not feeling well.  She stayed at the motel while Leslie and I drove about 20 minutes to Havelock North.  A colleague at work told me about the town; but, most importantly, he told me about Te Mata Peak.

The summit of Te Mata Peak is 399 meters (1,309 feet). At that height, one has a commanding, 360-degree views. Running north to south at the summit are limestone cliffs. The limestone bed has been uplifted due to tectonic activity over the millennia. Looking over the cliff edge, one has a good view of the Tuki Tuki River Valley. The Craggy Range Vineyards is visible along the far bank of the river. Last, but certainly not least, along the cliff edge, one can see the “hang gliding launch ramp.” That is not for me!
View from Te Mata Peak looking north. The city of Napier is at the far left of the bay.
The hang gliding launch ramp on Te Mata Peak. The Tuki Tuki River is visible across the center of the image.
Looking east from Te Mata Peak.

Back at the motel, we were glad to find Lorraine feeling much better.  That was a good thing.  We planned to go out that evening to celebrate Leslie’s birthday.

For dinner, we chose The Boardwalk restaurant. The food was delicious, but having Claudia wait on us made the whole evening. At one point, she saw that I was taking some photos with my phone. She asked if we wanted a picture of the three of us. Of course, I said yes. She was kind enough to take a photograph. Then, when she was done, she quickly turned the camera on herself and took a selfie. She was outgoing.
The birthday dinner destination.
The birthday girl is surrounded.
Our server, Claudia.

As a starter, we shared the Baked Pull-Apart Loaf.  That came with garlic butter, dukkha, basil pesto, and olive oil with balsamic vinegar.  We also shared Paua Wontons.  The wontons contained New Zealand paua (abalone) and came with lemon wedges and soy sauce.

The birthday girl selected Garlic and Maple Pork for her main. The menu description was pork loin marinated with maple, garlic, and sesame and served on a rustic chunky potato and cream cheese base with apple sauce. She did like it, but she said it was not quite what she was expecting.

Garlic & Maple Pork.

For her main dish, Lorraine selected the Chicken Parmigiana. The menu description was crumbed chicken breast topped with cheese, bacon, and Pomodoro sauce. It also came with baby gourmet potatoes and a seasonal salad. She said it was delicious.

Chicken Parmigiana.

I selected the house specialty, Seafood Lasagna.  The menu description was prawns, scallops, salmon, and mussels in a béchamel sauce, served with a tomato and feta green salad.  That was one of the most delicious meals I have had in a long time.  It was very rich, but very tasty.  In the end, I believe Leslie wished she would have ordered the same.

Seafood Lasagna.

Following our meal, I drove up to Bluff Hill Lookout.  The lookout provides a commanding view of the Port of Napier.  We happened to show up just as a large container ship was coming into port.  From our vantage point, it seemed the required turns to get to the dock were very tight.  Regardless, with assistance from two tugboats, the ship was soon securely moored.  That was the first time I have ever seen a ship dock.

Nearly docked.

Also visible in the port were the thousands and thousands of logs awaiting export. One of New Zealand’s main exports is timber. From our distant vantage point, it is hard to get an idea of the size of the logs. However, when one is closer, it is interesting just how big the logs are. Most of the logs are about four meters (13 feet) in length and about one meter (three feet) in diameter. The stacks seem endless. Logs, wood, and wood articles are the third largest export from New Zealand, following the number one dairy products, and the number two meat products.

The next day we took an art deco tour of Napier. The town was rebuilt almost entirely as a result of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 1, 1931. That timing was smack in the middle of the architectural art deco movement. Because of that, most of the buildings in town date from the early 1930s. Having lived through a 7.8 magnitude earthquake ourselves, I can only imagine how destructive the quake was. The subsequent fire consumed those structures that were not destroyed by the earthquake. The fire lasted for a day and one-half.

Since there is so much art deco history in Napier, the city has held an annual art deco festival for many years. It occurs each year in February. Because of that, many of the local stores sell clothing and accessories that look like they came directly out of the 1920s and 1930s. Leslie and I even found one store that sold authentic period clothing, not remakes.

Our driver and tour guide was Phil. He works for the tour service, Hooters. The vehicle he brought for our tour was a turquoise 1924 Hupmobile. I was shocked when he told us the vehicle parts were manufactured in Detroit. I have never heard of that make of automobile. Phil said the parts were shipped to Australia for assembly.

Tour driver Phil standing next to the 1924 Hupmobile.

As with tours of this nature, one always finds out interesting tidbits.  One of the things we stopped to view is the millennium disc.  It is a sculpture that was made to line up with the position of the sun as it rose on January 1, 2000.  New Zealand was the first country to see the sun of the new millennium.

We also stopped at the fountain known as the Spirit of Napier.  It is intended to commemorate the rising of Napier from the ashes after the earthquake.

The Six Sisters are a row of six Victorian double-story villas.  They somehow survived the earthquake and the fire.  They were built by a man who wanted to provide a house to each of his six daughters.  They are in various states of repair, but they are nice to see.

The Millennium Disk sculpture.
The Spirit of Napier Fountain.
Detail of the Six Sisters.

One other very attractive building is the National Tobacco Company building. Apart from its art deco design, I was surprised by the adornment. On either side of the door are horizontal green lines. Phil asked us to guess what was the green material. We all thought it was a green tile. He said nope. It is greenstone! Greenstone is a type of jade found in New Zealand. I was stunned that some enterprising criminal had not chipped them out by now. Hopefully, that will never happen.
Phil pointed out one home to us that had what looked like a boat in the front yard. It is a deck. The owner had asked the council for permission to build a deck in his front yard. That was denied. Council said decks are not allowed. The owner did some research and found that decorative structures are permitted. So, he built a “boat” that functions as a deck. While we were there, he had it decorated for Christmas.
A few blocks from that home is the first house that was built in Napier. It is definitely a tiny house.

The National Tobacco Company building.
The “deck.”
The first house built in Napier.

After our tour, while we were still in the central business district, we went to the MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum. There was a fascinating exhibit about the 1931 earthquake. However, the most notable thing was running into Lorraine’s “twin.” The two ladies happened to notice each other in the lobby of the museum. They were both wearing the same top! What are the odds that two women would buy the same top in the United States and then meet in New Zealand? We should have used that luck and bought a lottery ticket instead!

The “twins” at the MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum.

Following the museum visit, we were hungry.  We stopped at The Rose Irish Pub.  While we were sitting waiting for our lunch, I noticed an antique pitcher on a shelf near our table.  The pitcher was an uncanny likeness to our 45th President…

In the central business district, there are some large specimens of the pohutukawa tree.  The trees are found throughout New Zealand.  They flower with distinctive red blossoms around Christmas time.  That is why they are known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

An eerie likeness…
A pohutakawa tree. These are known as Christmas trees.

On our return trip to Wellington, we stopped at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka.  Since I was driving, we did not take a tour of the brewery.  Instead, we visited the gift shop, bought some Tui memorabilia, and then got back on the road.

A little more than two hours late,r we were back home.

Looking toward Cape Kidnappers.
The National Aquarium.
A tight turn for such a large ship.
Getting lined up. Note the thousands of logs at the port that are ready to be loaded on ships.
The moon setting over the Pacific Ocean.
A diver feeding the fish at the National Aquarium.
Swimming at the National Aquarium.
Cafination stop.
The sculpture is of a flower of the Kowhai tree, the unofficial flower of New Zealand.
As I was taking a photo of the MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum, this old car drove by.
An example of the clothing for sale.
The east wall of the MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum.
The dome on the old Temperance General Insurance building. It was completed in 1935.
Masonic Hotel.
Tile artwork along Emerson Street.
Christmas decorations on Emerson Street.
The birthday girl ready for dinner.
Our model for the birthday evening.
Driving toward the port.
The National Tobacco Company building.
The Ellison & Duncan building.
Driving by The County Hotel.
Driving through the CBD.
The Hotel Central building.
McGruer’s and Emerson buildings.
McGruer’s and Emerson buildings.
View of the Napier Soundshell.
Pohutakawa tree flowers.
On the beach at Napier.
The happy birthday celebrant!
The gang at the Bluff Hill Lookout.
At Te Mata Peak.

NZ Navy 75th

NZ Navy 75th

Auckland, New Zealand – November 17, 2016

Another business trip to Auckland!  I am fortunate that Leslie can travel with me on so many of my business trips.

On this particular trip, on our way to the hotel, Leslie asked the taxi driver where we could find crayfish for dinner.  He suggested Sails Restaurant.  We made arrangements to have him pick us up later that evening and take us to the restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant is at the Westhaven Marina.  The dining area is on the first floor with a beautiful view of the marina and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  Our starter was a smoked salmon platter.  It came with a melba toast type cracker, beetroot, and assorted greens.  Maybe it was the ambiance, but the salmon was the best tasting I had had in quite some time.

Smoked salmon appetizer.

Our main course was the crayfish Leslie wanted. In New Zealand, crayfish are equivalent to lobster, not the mudbugs that one might find in Louisiana. Here, the crayfish are very similar to lobster. The main difference is the claws; they are much smaller on the species here. The meat looks the same as a lobster. It also pulls out in clumps like lobster. The taste though is not as rich. For me, that makes it all the more delicious. It was not served with melted butter; however, Leslie was able to talk them into bringing some to the table.

Dessert was just as good as the other two courses. I had the crème brûlèe. Leslie’s dessert was reminiscent of doughnut holes, ice cream, and caramel. It was quite good, but it made up for the crayfish not being rich!

One morning we walked to Albert Park and, subsequently, the Auckland Art Gallery. It was a beautiful morning. We found many varying views of the Sky Tower.

When we visited the gallery, one of the exhibits contained dozens of pieces of work by Gottfried Lindauer.  He was a renown portrait artist in New Zealand at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.  His portraits of Maori with their various moko facial tattoos.  We enjoyed seeing so much of his work.

Strolling in the park.
Sculpture in the park.

Saturday morning, we had time to tour around. We settled on taking the ferry from Auckland across the harbor to Devonport. We would have been hard-pressed to pick a cloudier, more drizzly day. But, it is what it is, so off we went.
There were several naval ships from around the world anchored in the harbor. They were taking part in the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary. One of the invitees, the USS Sampson was absent. The ship made the trip to New Zealand to participate; however, it volunteered to be rerouted to the South Island to assist with recovery efforts following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake. That earthquake occurred about one week before the anniversary celebration. It would have been nice to see her. This appearance in New Zealand waters was the first time a United States ship had been welcomed for more than 30 years.

The Indonesian ship Banda Aceh, a Banjarmasin-class Landing Platform Dock.
The Chilean tall ship, Esmeralda.
The Chinese and South Korean frigates.
We got off the ferry at the Devonport pier where there are several shops and restaurants. We walked outside and saw a lot of activity in a park near the dock. There were dozens, maybe hundreds, of hand-painted and decorated wooden birds. On one of them was written, “Save the Godwits.” A godwit is a native New Zealand bird. Their numbers are declining. One estimate I saw was just 75,000 in all of New Zealand.
Save the Godwits.
Looking at each one.
A flock of wooden birds.

We continued walking around the CBD of Devonport, exploring the many shops and cafés. Near the Devonport library, there is a massive tree. Other than fake trees at Disney World, I am not sure I have ever seen a tree with such a large trunk.

Back at the pier complex, we stopped in the Devon on the Wharf restaurant. We had a leisurely lunch.

Devon On The Wharf.

After lunch, we stood in a queue to wait for our ferry back to Auckland. While there, I spotted a “no” sign. It was amazing to see one sign with so many “illegal actions.”


Back in Auckland, we prepared for our journey back home. On our way to the airport, our driver took us to One Tree Hill. It offers 360-degree views of Auckland.

View toward the airport from One Tree Hill.
The obelisk at the summit of One Tree Hill.
View toward the CBD from One Tree Hill.
Looking toward the harbor.
The marina and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
RSS Resolution, a Singapore Endurance Class tank landing ship.
The New Zealand ship Otago, a Protector class offshore patrol vessel.
A kayaker.
The Chinese frigate, Yancheng.
The Republic of Korea frigate, Chungbuk.
Fishing from the Devonport pier.
Wall art in Devonport.
A massive tree.
Sky Tower.
Sky Tower looking west along Victoria Street.
Albert Park with the Sky Tower in the background.
The fountain in Albert Park.
Fountain detail.
Albert Park and a view of the Sky Tower.
Albert Park.
Flowers in the park.
Handrail leading down to the Auckland Art Gallery.
A “guard” at the Auckland Art Gallery.
Inside the Auckland Art Gallery.
The Landing of Lieutenant-Governor Hobson at Waitangi, by Matthew Clayton (1896).
Limbo by Judy Darragh (2015).
Limbo detail.
Limbo from above.
The Civic Theatre building.
Christmas display at the Farmers Department Store building.
The intersection of Queen & Victoria.

Auckland Visit

Auckland Visit

Auckland, New Zealand – August 8, 2016
We landed in Auckland after an uneventful flight from Wellington.  We checked into our hotel, the Stamford Plaza, shortly before lunch.  The room we had faced Albert Street.  Across the street was a shell of a building.  No doubt, the owner is hoping that a buyer will come along to redevelop the site.

The building at 9 Wolfe Street.
Roof detail of the building at 9 Wolfe Street.

After lunch, I went to work.
When I returned to the room, we discussed where to go for dinner. We settled on Harbourside. We departed the hotel to walk about two blocks to the Ferry Building, overlooking the ferry docks.
We began at the bar, which is unique. The bar has four sides. One entire side of the bar displays nothing but tequila, including several sugar skull bottles of tequila. The bar on the side we chose had several types of alcohol, including rum. Suddenly, much to my surprise, I spied an old friend. There, on the shelf, was a bottle of El Dorado Rum. Our introduction to El Dorado happened while we lived in Georgetown, Guyana. Our drink of choice that night was wine, but I made a mental note for an after-dinner drink.
While sitting at the bar, we enjoyed a starter of Smoked Snapper Pâté. It was smooth, creamy, smoked snapper pâté, with lemon juice, smoked paprika, and served with crispy spelt bread. It was delicious.
From the bar, we moved to our table. Leslie opted for the Roasted Merino Lamb Rump. It came with potato boulangère, honey spiced beetroot fondant, baby beets, burnt onion purée, hazelnut, panko crumbed sweetbreads, and herb yogurt. I chose the Ora King Salmon Fillet, served with smoked leek vichyssoise, charred baby leek, oyster mushroom, samphire, apple, cucumber, diamond clams, and crayfish essence. I cannot put into words just how good it tasted.

Tequila sugar skulls.
A very well-stocked bar.
Our old friend, El Dorado Rum.

The following night we decided to try the Lumsden Free House Bar. It is not as flash as Harbourside. Regardless, it has a friendly atmosphere.

The Lumsden Free House Bar.
Khyber Pass Road next to the Lumsden Free House Bar.

One day at work, on the way from one home inspection to another, my colleague and I stopped at Mount Eden. It is a nearly 650-foot tall dormant volcano. It provides a stunning view of Auckland. At 160 feet deep, the bowl-like crater is impressive.

Auckland CBD as seen from the summit of Mount Eden.
The Harbor Bridge as viewed from the summit of Mount Eden.
Directions on Mount Eden.
Eden Park, home of the All Blacks.
The crater at the summit of Mount Eden.
Survey marker at the summit of Mount Eden.

Saturday morning, Leslie and I took time to visit the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium. Uniquely, the entire aquarium is underground. A moving walkway transports one through several aquariums. The sidewalk is very similar to the one at the National Aquarium in Napier; however, it is four or five times longer. By far, our favorite exhibit contained a lone, fist-sized octopus. The octopus sat still and quiet in the display until we approached.
Suddenly, the octopus put on a show just for us. It was very entertaining to watch the octopus move around. Leslie decided she would like one as a pet. I moved her along so we would not get in trouble.

Penguins at the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium.
Penguins at the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium.
Our octopus friend.
View across Okahu Bay and Judges Bay to the Auckland CBD. An obviously foggy morning.
Auckland CBD after the fog lifted.
A boat passing North Head.
The Auckland CBD.

We took a taxi back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage, and headed to the airport.

The sign at our hotel.
Queen Street looking south from Customs Street.
Sidewalk near the Ferry Building.


Featherston, New Zealand – May 4, 2016

Disappointed with our day trip so far, we departed Martinborough for the 15-minute drive to Greytown. When we drove through that town earlier in the day, we saw several antique stores. We wanted to go antiquing in those stores.

Directional sign.
A gas station in Featherston.

From where we parked, we walked both sides of the street in Greytown. We entered several antique stores, but we did not buy anything.

Heading toward home, we drove about 10 minutes to Featherston. We found a couple of antique stores in which we found some antique china. We purchased those and then looked for a place to have lunch.

Quite by chance, we selected the Everest Bakery Café Bistro. Once inside we discovered they had a wood-fired pizza oven. That meant we had to share a pizza for lunch. I thought it was delicious. The menu trumpeted their Napolitian Style Wood-Fired Pizza, so we selected the Meat Lover style. It had pepperoni, ham, meatball, olives, and capsicum; all for just $18 (about US$13). We departed the café with a pizza box for later enjoyment.

The Everest Cafe.

About two doors away from the café was a specialty cheese shop. We purchased some cheddar and some manchego cheeses.

From there, it was back over the Rimutaka Pass and on to home.