Going back through my older photographs, I noticed I had not shared a drive along one of our favorite places in Wellington; the Miramar Peninsula. On this particular trip, I decided to stop and capture a photograph of the “Windy Wellington” sign. The sign is on a hillside shortly before one can turn onto the seaside road that encircles the peninsula.
“Windy Welly” is a moniker that many may have heard, but just how windy is Welly? Is it windier than the “Windy City”; Chicago? From all sources I have checked, it appears that Wellington is, in fact, the windiest city. The table below makes a comparison, including several of the cities in which we have lived. These statistics are from Wind Finder. Try the site to check on other towns of personal interest.
Average Annual Wind Speed
Wellington, New Zealand
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
La Paz, Bolivia
The average annual wind speed seems so insignificant. So, what is the record wind speed in the same locations? Now, these are some numbers! Bear in mind a category 1 hurricane begins at 74 mph or 119 km/h. Based on that, the record wind speed in Wellington equates to a category 2 hurricane! The records are from the almanac section found on My Forecast.
Record Wind Speed
Wellington, New Zealand
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
La Paz, Bolivia
Luckily our day was not blustery in the least. It began as a bit overcast but cleared to a beautiful day.
The first community one passes through is Shelly Bay, a collection of World War II-era buildings. Some are in disrepair while others have found new life as a café or an art gallery. Other than taking photos, we did not stop on this trip. It has a lovely charm.
Our next stop on this trip was Point Halswell and the lighthouse. Lighthouse seems a rather grandiose term. It is a small, automatic beacon. At the point there were several seagulls around, periodically diving into the water. As I got closer, I could see there was a fish carcass just under the surface near the shore. The seagulls plunged in grasped the body, and with the whip of their head, they tore off bits of flesh. It was fascinating to watch.
Kau Bay was our primary destination that morning. After finding a place to park, we walked down to the beach with our folding chairs. We had never been to that beach before, but we were up for some beachcombing. We found a surprising amount of sea-glass on the pebbly beach. When we had our fill, we sat in the folding chairs and observed the world. We are so fortunate to be able to live in such a beautiful country.
Our next stop was the beach at Scorching Bay. It is a lovely public beach. At the beach is a small café, the Scorch-O-Rama. Other than stopping once for some bottled water, we have never sampled the offerings. Before we depart, we need to try breakfast there just once. Some friends go frequently. They say it is terrific.
We were not the only people out that day. We saw joggers, bicyclists, people fishing, scuba divers, and surfers. The peninsula seems to have something for everyone.
When we stopped at Moa Point, we were very near the south end of the runway at the Wellington International Airport. I heard a jet taxiing. When I looked up, I saw a jumbo jet from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The plane was a huge Airbus A340, no wonder it looked so big.
Other than the occasional aircraft distraction, we busied ourselves with beachcombing. At Moa Point, we are always assured of finding paua shells. The shells we found range in size from about one-inch to nearly eight inches. Neither of us knows what we are going to do with these when we leave. Regardless, it sure is fun to collect them!
I scheduled a business trip to Auckland, New Zealand, and Apia, Samoa. I was fortunate that Leslie was able to accompany me.
In Auckland, we stayed at the Stamford Plaza Hotel. One evening we decided to try the Kabuki Teppanyaki restaurant in the hotel. It is a Japanese display cooking restaurant. Along one of the walls are dozens of bottles of various alcohol.
We had been to that restaurant once before and liked it, so we decided to try it again. The second time was even better. Maybe the chef was more flamboyant. What was the most surprising about the meal was my utensils…I was able to eat the entire meal with chopsticks! That is a feat I was never able to accomplish before.
I work with a Japanese colleague. After the trip, I asked her if these restaurants were popular in Japan. She said, not really. It is much more of a touristy thing.
Following our time in Auckland, it was off to Samoa. It is only about a three and one-half hour flight.
Our hotel room overlooked the Pacific. That provided the opportunity to watch ships coming and going from the port of Apia.
Of all the times I have visited Apia, I had never visited the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. During this trip, we had an opportunity to go. It was fascinating. The Scottish RLS was born on November 13, 1850. Around 1888, RLS made his first visit to Samoa. He fell in love with the island. In 1890 he bought a plot of land and built his home. That is now the RLS Museum.
For about US$20, one can take part in a guided tour of the residence. One of the interesting things about the house are the fireplaces in some of the rooms. Obviously, RLS was thinking of Scotland when he designed the home. A fireplace was indispensable in Scotland; in Samoa they are superfluous.
The grounds are stunning with a wide variety of tropical plants and flowers. The house is at the base of Mount Vaea. He died at the very young age of 44 and is buried upon that mount, overlooking the sea.
Following the photo below of Leslie holding the Vailima beer, I added some additional photographs of the Catholic cathedral in Apia. It is one of the most stunning I have ever seen.
It was a smashing morning. We were both excited about our fishing adventure with Pete Lamb Fishing. We arrived at the Seaview Marina at about 11:40 for our 12:30 departure. Another 19 people from the office and their family joined us, for a total of 21 people.
We saw our boat, the Daniel, entering the marina from Wellington Harbour. At 62 feet (19 meters), it is a good-sized boat. It is white with a red gunwale. As each of us walked up the stairs and stepped on board, Captain Pete greeted us with a smile and a handshake.
Behind the pilothouse was a small room with a dining table and storage cabinets. Leaving that room, one is on the deck. There is a roof above about half of the deck. The remainder is open and not shaded.
Leslie and I took up positions near the door to the dining area, under cover. All of the fishing poles were rigged, baited, and standing in rod holders evenly spaced along the gunwale. As the Daniel reversed and began to make its way through the marina, we marveled at homes above Point Howard. They have a commanding view of the harbor.
Moored just outside the Seaview Marina was the oil products tanker ship, Pacific Rainbow. It is a 28,000-gross ton ship, capable of carrying as much as 46,000 tons of product. At just under 600 feet (180 meters), it is small for a tanker. I imagine that is due to the depth of the harbor. More massive ships probably have too deep a draft to dock at Seaview. The contents of the tanker are pumped to holding tanks at the Mobil Petroleum Products Company for ultimate distribution throughout New Zealand.
Once in the open waters of the harbor, Captain Pete pointed the boat toward the southern point of Somes Island. It is the largest island in the harbor. Currently a reserve under the control of the Department of Conservation, the island previously served as an internment camp and a quarantine location for both humans and mammals.
We passed Somes Island off the starboard side of the boat. I did not realize until this trip that there is a lighthouse on the island. The current tower dates from 1900, while the original lighthouse dates from 1866. It is one of 23 operating lighthouses in New Zealand.
The weather became windier. Luckily, the wind was out of the north, so it was not really cold. Throughout the afternoon, it became more and more cloudy. The good news, we did not have any rain.
Continuing, off the port side of the boat, we could see the Point Halswell Lighthouse. It sits on the northern point of the Miramar peninsula.
After a trip of just under six miles (nine kilometers), we reached the “fishing hole.” We anchored just off the point of Oriental Bay. As soon as the anchor hit the harbor floor, Captain Pete sent his deckhand around to instruct each of us how to use the rods. The hooks were many times larger than the hooks one uses for trout fishing. They are known as self-setting hooks. A trout hook looks roughly like the letter “J.” The self-setting hooks look more like a sloppily drawn letter “J.” The small portion of the hook is bent back considerably toward the main shaft. The tip of the hook is bent back a little more. This design makes it more difficult for the fish to spit out the hook. Virtually every time, the hook ends up in the corner of the fish’s mouth.
For bait, the hooks had either fish or squid pieces. Each pole had two baited hooks and a lead weight of about 12 ounces. There was no casting. One placed a thumb on the wound fishing line on the reel, released the drag, and allowed the line to drop to the harbor floor. As soon as the weight hit the harbor floor, one re-engaged the drag, wound once or twice and then waited. The water was about 65 feet deep (20 meters).
Very quickly, people started hooking fish. The most prevalent fish was the kahawai. I had a large kahawai hooked, but just at the surface, it jumped off. I did not catch anything else the rest of the afternoon.
Leslie did land a good cooking-size kahawai a little later. Captain Pete commented that there was a school of kahawai near us, as evidenced by the sea birds. Several types of seabirds circled near the boat, diving periodically for the fish.
In addition to the kahawai, two red gurnard, one red snapper, and one barracuda found their way onto the Daniel. When a fish made it to the deck of the boat, either Captain Pete or the deckhand removed the hook, dispatched the fish, and placed it in a cooler. They also assisted with snags and tangles, of which there were a few.
The fishing expedition was communal. That means that all fish caught are filleted and distributed evenly to those fishing. So, even though I did not land a fish, I still got an even share of the total catch. When the cooler was full, the deckhand began filleting the fish. He never gutted any of the fish. He filleted both sides and then removed the skin. The deckhand tossed the remains over the side, much to the delight of the seagulls…and who knows what in the depths.
When the first fishing hole petered out (no pun intended), the captain weighed anchor and motored the boat near the port. That meant that while we fished, we could watch the loading of ships. There were two ships docked at the port, a container ship, the other boat was a cargo ship, taking on logs from New Zealand bound for China.
After 30 or 40 minutes, Captain Pete moved the boat to a spot just off the west side of Somes Island. That is where one of the fishermen caught the lone barracuda. The captain said the barracuda was not a keeper because of the worms they usually carry. Instead, the barracuda became bait.
We had fished for a little over six hours when we left the west side of Somes Island, bound for the Seaview Marina. By the time we arrived, the deckhand had all of the fillets in 21 separate plastic bags. Since we received two, I estimate Leslie and I ended up with about two pounds of fish.
Two nights after the fishing trip, we had the fish for dinner along with a trout that a friend had given us. I must say, I was not all that wild with the kahawai. I much preferred the trout. Regardless, the fishing trip was a lot of fun.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.