We tried to join the locals today.
First, it was the Napier Urban Market. We were among the first ones there when it opened at 9am. Smaller and quieter than expected, but we bought some peaches and plums. The plan was to come back for jelly doughnuts later – Genevieve managed to snag the last one around 11:00, much to Claire’s frustration.
We spent some time in search of reliable Wifi, and a vintage bathing suit to decorate our pool shed – with little success on either count. Tim used the opportunity to enjoy a coffee from Six Sisters — housed in one of six restored Victorian-style homes on the Napier waterfront. (Speaking of which, the ongoing development of the Marine Parade in Napier is impressive. Our favourite element was an enclosed area where little kids can learn the rules of the road on their bikes/trikes — complete with working traffic lights and crosswalks and roundabouts.
We popped into The Little Book Shop to get Jonah more to read. What a great find! Jammed with stock at affordable prices – we left with a stack of books to keep us going for the next while – titles we’ll be fine to leave behind at our upcoming stops. (Update: 36 hours later, Jonah is finished 2 of his 3 purchases…) We couldn’t get a great photo, but the place was packed to the rafters with books and customers.
Next, Tim, Gen and I went to an “affordable art show” fundraiser at the local girls’ high school. 300 girls live there and another 700 are day students. Apparently this event raised $40,000 for the school last year! It cost a “gold coin” to get in (i.e. a loonie or twoonie), and local art was on sale, all at less than $1000 per piece. Lots were already marked as “Sold” when we got there around midday. We enjoyed browsing but won’t be coming home with a masterpiece.
We carried on from there to a nearby town called Havelock North and found a café for lunch. Gen’s corn fritters were the highlight, but Jonah’s smoked salmon toastie wasn’t far behind.
Tim and Claire carried on from there to a “BAD” event (beer appreciation day — drinking age is 18 here)! at the local Cricket Club while Jonah read his new book and Gen and Rebecca played cribbage, wandered the town, and grabbed some groceries for supper.
Final event of the day: evening stock car races. A first for the kids. We had no idea what to expect, but the track was 12 minutes from our place and we’d heard the races don’t happen often, so we gave it a try. We weren’t sure if we should arrive early, on time or stylishly late. (Genevieve asked if she should wear a fascinator — we assured her one wouldn’t be required). When we arrived about 15 minutes before the first race, the parking field and grandstands were already buzzing. They let us in at a family rate (despite Claire being above the child age) because we’re Canadian – left us money for salty fries and some candy floss. What a hoot! Best $60 investment of the trip in terms of entertainment value so far (with the Anatoki salmon fishing coming a close second, the kids agreed). The races lasted for about three hours and ranged from mini go-kart races to team elimination play downs. There were lots of crashes. A few close finishes. Some apparent strategy (we think). A “homer” announcer over a fuzzy loudspeaker encouraging the local drivers to go after the visitors. At least one female winner (we think). We got rained on. We were sprayed with sparks and chunks of mud. We witnessed a couple of roll overs and a car fire just near us (no one was hurt). And we even passed the stock car team buses carrying the drivers and crew back to Rotorua when we were on the road the next day. We trust they saw their newest fans waving…