Art Deco Napier and living amongst the trees in Martinborough

Saturday, 25 February 2017

I've decided to write up these two places in one post as they were a little less action packed than the last few places we have visited. The next place after Rotorua we visited was the wonderful town of Napier.

Napier is a vintage and antique lovers heaven on the east coast of the North Island. Not renowned for backpacking culture in comparison to places like Queenstown or Auckland, we were a little dubious at what to expect. However, Napier was a dream! Thrashed in history, charm and class what this little town lacks in adventure it makes up for in style. Art Deco buildings and artwork set on the coast with tones of vintage boutiques, Aladdin's cave style antique shops and quirky little cafes. During our stay in Napier we were lucky enough to stay in a very beautiful, unique hostel called Criterion. An old Spanish building built in 1932 in the centre of town, for once I was chuffed to be staying in a hostel over a swanky hotel!

Although there isn't much to do in Napier, as most hikes and sight seeing is a little out of town, with this said we still managed to find a decent hike up Bluff Hill with panoramic views of the shipping harbour. Plus on the way is a pretty sweet waterfall! As for eating out, Napier has some awesome restaurants and cafes. We enjoyed cocktails and dinner at The Emporium, a classic Art Deco style restaurant showing old black and white movies, highly recommend. Plus a great Indian at Sangam Indian Tandoori, the butter prawns are insane! I also recommend Hapi and little plant based and allergy free cafe selling both vegan and non vegan food. The green smoothies looked gross but tasted amazing! I was fighting off a cold at the time so it was just what I needed. As for the beach, I wouldn't say it was great. Not really swimming and sunbathing conditions but I enjoyed a run along the adjacent pathway whilst the sun was rising above the pier and it was stunning.

After Napier we went to our final stop on the north island, Martinborough. Again not known for backpacking and a little bit off the beaten path, but a wonderful time was had nonetheless. We opted to stay in a remote area off of the main town in a unique home stay... A treehouse! Although there're some great hostels out there, when I can find an affordable, quirky home stay on my favourite app (Air BnB) then I jump at the chance. I love going to a place and emerging myself into that place, living like a local and finding hidden spots that others might not, and that's exactly what happens when you opt for home stays over hostels. Niko, the guy who made the treehouse and lived in the farm house opposite was a really interesting man. Originally from Germany, he moved to NZ to work on The Lord of the Rings making props! Niko is a great guy and amazing artist and we loved listening to his stories of different art pieces he has made around NZ, and we throughly enjoyed being able to sleep in one of his many creations. I must also add that we adored his beautiful dog, Fred!

Not much to do in the nearby towns except have coffee and cake, ice cream or shop for trinkets, we opted to check out some of the local walks that Niko had recommended down to the nearby river that you could in fact swim in. If you're ever in NZ and want to stay somewhere a little more rural before heading over to Wellington/The South Island then please check out Niko's tree house (I'll leave the link below).

Elly X

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