After five sunny days in Whitianga we set out for Hawkes Bay / Napier, our “Christmas destination” for this year. The weather forecast is rather underwhelming and we face 425 km on the road inclusive the uncertainty to find an accommodation on site.
As we arrive in Napier by early evening we take our chance at the newly renovated Masonic hotel and are pleasantly surprised: We catch a lot of Art-Deco flair, a super nice welcome and very appealing rooms. The new superior rooms and Art Deco suites present themselves much lighter and friendlier as the pictures on their homepage let you presume. After some toing and froing we decide against the indeed calm but a little too small superior rooms and move into the last available Art Deco suite.
We make short work of the evening planning and skip the search for great places to dine in Napier and visit straightaway The Emporium Eatery & Bar in-house. Actually, The Emporium Eatery & Bar became increasingly popular with the clientele as well as the specialized press. We are tired and not any more in the mood of seeking another adventure and therefore want to simply enjoy some Emporium Tapas, freshly tapped Hawkes-Bay-beers together with a whole bunch of fancy Art Deco atmosphere and a well-deserved, last good night cocktail.
The following day, Christmas eve, is the last kind of “normal” day before the “silly season” starts. You need to know that Christmas in New Zealand equals declaring an exceptional state! Firstly, the public holidays legislation anticipates that employees who have to work on these days are entitled to be paid time-and-a-half and take an alternative day off. And secondly, Christmas is the start of their summer holidays and a big big family affair. For these reasons a lot of the shops, restaurants and cafes are closing or, in case they are open, are fully booked and on top of that ask for 15-20% surcharge. Sometimes, the final outcome feels like a complete country shutdown!
For travelers that means that you’d better organize an apartment over Christmas, bunker your fridge with yummy stuff and cook yourself – just what we planned for the day! We move into our pre-booked loft apartment in The Crown Hotel, stock up with sushi, all sort of dainties, wine and other essential goods for survival and go into seclusion for the next two days.
And really, we don’t have difficulty in doing so, as even the weather has got the Christmas-blues: it’s cloudy, grey, windy and there is a nasty, patchy drizzle. But it is warm.
As we are leaving the loft apartment on the 27th of December, everyday’s life has returned. All the cafes and restaurants are open again and only the weather is still sulking. After a relaxed lunch at Mister D and a last coffee in our favorite FG Smith Eatery we set out returning to Auckland. Already tomorrow leaves our flight to Queenstown.
At the end, it was an entertaining drive to Auckland, as already shortly behind Taupo the sky cleared and the sun escorted us right until Auckland.
Christmas is over – now starts the vacation season. New Zealand switches into “holiday-mode”…
Where to find