What we didn’t know… In 1931 a catastrophic earthquake destroyed Napier but in the following two years the recovery created what is now, the most complete Art Deco city in the world. We also didn’t know when we drove in that the annual Winter Deco Weekend was in full swing; a boutique festival where you were invited to get out your coats, hats and fur wraps, and savour a program of events that included balls, vintage cocktail evenings, jazz performances, and classic films in and around Napier’s incredible Art Deco heritage.
The town was a buzz with vintage cars complete with appropriately clad drivers and passengers, and the buildings were the back drop for an abundance of frocks and feathers, pleated pants, spats and hats. It was tops!
We walked to the water as independent couples and Gary and I took interest in the plaques on the ‘Veronica Sunbay’ – a curved arcade with columns on the town side and a a wall of unglazed windows facing the sea. We found a plaque commemorating Harold Holt and Ron would later suggest that perhaps he swam back to NZ…
What we didn’t know was that this structure was built in 1934, and so named because the HMS Veronica’s ships officers and crew assisted in the rescue work in the aftermath of the 1931 earthquake.
A late lunch and then continuing south to Masterton and the much anticipated collection of four axes. Those who know Ron understand; those who don’t can wonder. It was dark as Deidre guided us to an unfamiliar address; Gary weeed in the bushes while Ron, like a little child on Christmas morning, braved the darkness and returned with a securely tied plain, but heavy, cardboard box. We changed drivers so that he could get to know his new friends. He fashioned a knife out of Gary’s used Coke can to reveal the treasures, and they glistened in the light of my phone. What joy.
From there to Wellington was a drive and a half climbing the Rimutaku Range – narrow, hairpin curves, NZ drivers, headlights, blind corners… but over the mountains a fairly flat drive through uninteresting towns with the exception of lively Greytown, with its quaint streetscape full of busy restaurants, and examples of Victorian architecture visible in the dark.
Again Deidre got us to our accommodation without drama even though the google map looked liked upturned bowls of spaghetti. Well done Deidre. Well done Gary. Well done Ron.