Ruahine RangeThe first week of school holidays was entirely devoted to sleeping and reading, in that order.  But the second week I got my hair cut, went to the National Army Museum, looked at my calendar, and realized I hadn’t ventured beyond 30 km of town and holidays were almost over.  So I packed a bag and drove across the North Island to Napier.

Napier’s schtick is Art Deco architecture.  In 1931 the city was levelled by an earthquake, and they decided to rebuild it in the style of the time.  To be honest, it’s a nice little seaside town, but Art Deco and Spanish Mission don’t really do it for me.  At their best they are minimalist gems of elegance; in Napier’s case, it seems more boring than minimalist.  (Plus, there were only TWO used bookstores that I could find.)

Thus, the highlight of the trip was the drive to Napier.  I live in the centre of the island, on top of a plateau.  Napier is on the east coast.  Between us is a mountain range.  There are two main highways that go around the range and add 100 km to the trip; but there’s also a road through the hills called the Gentle Annies.  And I took that.

Disadvantages: 150 km of super winding, post-rain, mud-sloshed mountain road, 50 km of which is unsealed.

Advantages: Incomparable views.  Snow-capped hills in the distance and apple trees in the foreground.  Sheep as far as the eye can see.  Oh, and 150 km of super winding, post-rain, mud-sloshed road, 50 km of which is unsealed.

Fun, fun times.

– Jean AAR

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I live in Seattle, Washington and work as a legal assistant. I remember learning to read (comic strips) at a young age and nowadays try to read about 5-6 books a week. I love to travel, especially to Europe, and enjoy exploring smaller towns off the tourist track though London is my favorite city in the world.