Daily Archives: April 13, 2016


Neither of us has ever been to a commercial aquarium and living as we do in the biggest aquarium in the world why would we want to? For penguins, of course. We’ve caught fleeting glimpses of the little blue penguins native to New Zealand from the boat but we plunked down our entrance fees to the National Aquarium in Napier so we could be up close and personal to these cuties. 

We did the obligatory walk through the exhibits and the big tank but mostly we were waiting for penguin feeding time. 

The small population of fairy penguins here are all rescues, victims of predator attacks, fishing line or net snares or other injuries or debilities. A few are partly sightless, some are missing flippers, one had a head injury, and so on. When the staff rescues a bird, they nurse it back to health and release it into the wild if they can but if the penguin won’t be able to fend for itself it’s kept here, safely cared for and providing amusement for us visitors. And who doesn’t love penguins? They’re just so damn cute and we happily watched them until it was time to hit the road again. 

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Deco in the sun

On 3 February 1931 the area of Hawke’s Bay was struck by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that leveled the city of Napier and killed 236 people. It remains New Zealand’s worst natural disaster. The city was rebuilt using new building codes and since most of the structures were designed and built during the 1930s Napier is considered to be one of the finest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world. 

We started at the museum for an overview of the disaster including some harrowing videos of first-person accounts of the earthquake and the horror of the immediate aftermath and the long-term emotional effects. Then we took off on a self-guided tour of some of the notable buildings. It was a clear and sunny day, perfect for exploring a quiet, charming town and in true Schulz style we made frequent cafe stops along the way. 


Like many cities, Napier has installed pianos here and there with the invitation to “play me.” This young man was quite good and provided an appropriate soundtrack to our tour of downtown. 

Hawke’s Bay is a big wide open body of water compared to the protected, island-studded Hauraki Gulf and we were glad we visited on land instead of by boat. Still, you can’t deny the beauty of that endless beach. 


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