We set off from Lake Taupo for a drive to Napier in hot, warm and sunny conditions. For our late morning stop we visited a vineyard in the Hawkes bay area called Linden purely because that was the name of our driver. The owner of the vineyard wasn't too pleased about a coach descending on her but she made the best of it by plying us with samples and collaring Linden for him to call again. We bought a bottle of the wine for us to have with our picnic later.
The journey was quite beautiful and we constantly passed old cars and were told that there had been a festival at Napier the week before. This is an annual week long festival where the whole town of Napier reverts back to the 1930s era, people dress up and there are lots of open air events relating back to the Art Deco era. When we arrived at our hotel the car park was full of vintage Bentley cars. They turned out to be a partly of Bentley owners from the UK on a tour of New Zealand. The cars were there all the time we were and were fantastic to look at and the owners were also very forthcoming with details.
We had a couple of hours to get some lunch, pick up some food for dinner and have a look round Napier before we got into the hotel and then another hour before we had to get back into the coach to be transported to our next adventure. The hotel room was fantastic, the hotel was a shallow crescent shape facing towards the sea. The corridors were at the back of the hotel and every room has a wall of glass that faces the sea. In our case we were extra lucky as we were at the end of the crescent and had windows on 2 walls of the hotel room! We managed a quick walk along the seafront after unpacking and before we had to get back on the bus. We weren't travelling very far to the start of the tractor ride to the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. On the way there we once again saw lots of evidence of horticulture used as exports, in particular Chinese gooseberries (or kiwi fruit as they were very cleverly marketed as!).
There were 3 tractors(and trailers) waiting for us and a number of other tourists, the tractors were American and dated back to the 1950's! Our tour was allocated their own trailer, Linden(bus driver) and Helen (tour guide) were able to come with us. Linden manage to pick a very comfortable seat on the trailer in the middle where he wouldn't get his feet wet. Helen had the throne seat next to the driver!
I must admit that the thought of going to a gannet colony instead of exploring the beautiful scenery and architecture at Napier wasn't very attractive but the reality was far better. It was fun driving along the beach on the edge of the tide, avoiding the big rocks and recent cliff rock falls, getting splashed by the water and seeing the magnificent geological formations along the cliff edge. At the end of the beach we got off the trailers and had a shortish steep walk in the very hot temperatures up to the top of the peninsular and the gannet colony itself. The birds were spread out at a touchable distance to us in sets of families, the noise was loud, the smell was strong and the flies ferocious. We didn't stay very long at the top before we came down and had a very pleasant picnic dinner (complete with wine). We travelled back on the trailers and part way back stopped to see more gannets and had our first glimpse of dolphins. We arrived at the end of the beach to sa glorious sunset. We travelled back to Napier by bus and got ready to enjoy the architecture of Napier the next day.