From the Oceanic Discoverer in New Zealand
Feb 1, 2013 - Oceanic Discoverer
Hawks Bay was where New Zealand’s worst earthquake tragedy took place on the 3rd February 1931. Buildings crumpled under the impact of a 7.9 Richter Scale earthquake, what the shock did not destroy, fire finished off. The resulting death toll of 258 included many killed by falling parapets. The city of Napier was closest to the epicentre and suffered almost complete destruction. But up from the ashes arose the new Napier, it reinvented itself, a new city arose from the rubble and ashes of destruction, a city based on the Art Deco style of the age. Napier’s collection of Art Deco buildings in the inner city with its bold lines, elaborate motifs, and pretty pastel colours, is recognised internationally. Widespread appreciation, however, has come only in the past few years and today Napier is fiercely proud of the city’s heritage.
Set in the Heretauanga Plains the area has had a long history of agriculture, from the time of the first Maori settlement in the 1300s through to this day. The Plains are where most of the export apples are grown; other crops include squash, maize, corn, and the extensive vineyards which a warm mostly dry climate (some would say almost Mediterranean) provides ideal conditions.
This afternoon we had a privately arranged tour of what is purported to be the largest mainland colony of Gannets in the world; 10,000 birds, at Cape Kidnappers, for all including the non-birders this was an exceptional experience with excellent photographic opportunities; truly spectacular. The Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) Maori name Takapu, size 89cm, 2.3kg. Of interest was the sighting of a bird with a gular (throat) stripe longer than usual in this species, but in recent years capensis of Southern Africa has been recorded breading in NZ and Australia, which would account for the variation in the bird seen today.
Again today the weather has been at its best with temperatures in the mid 80F, with just a slight northerly breeze to take the edge off the heat.