Napier Weekend

This weekend I went to stay with my supervisor, Leigh, and her family in Napier. It was just a nice little weekend to see some more of Hawke’s Bay and also an opportunity to meet up with another girl from the same university as me (but different program, as she teaches high school) as well as getting to go to the school where Leigh works part time, allowing me to see another school in New  Zealand.

 Leigh was nice enough to come and get me Saturday morning with her 5 year old daughter Olivia and her 3 year old son Thomas. We headed back to her house, had some lunch and then met up for coffee with Molly and her friend Kelli. Molly is teaching PE and health down at a high school in Wellington, and her friend Kelli came over with her to help her get settled and travel over the holiday but decided she loved it and changed her ticket to stay an extra month!


The weather this weekend was not ideal, but at least it was familiar, so we talked over coffee and then split up to look at some shops and said we might try to meet for dinner or drinks. After checking out the Napier shops, Leigh and I had to go to the lovely hotel called East Pier to meet my host teacher and her husband for drinks at the bar/hotel their son-in-law manages. It really is on the pier and has a great view!


Adrienne and her husband Tony also live in Napier and Tony is a principal of another primary school in the area who hosted GST students on occasion so he knew Leigh and welcomed me to come visit during the next three weeks, as they even have a deaf student who uses a Cochlear Implant. I don’t think she actually signs, but it’d still be interesting for me to see.

 Napier is a beautiful ocean-front town, but really increases in popularity over the summer. This is THE Art Deco city- and every summer they have a huge Art Deco festival where people from all around the world come to bring old fashion cars, dress up and have parades and picnics in the art deco style.

 After drinks with Adrienne and Tony, we headed home to grab some dinner and have a check-in with Leigh’s family before heading off to meet Kelly and Molly for more drinks! Leigh took us to “the strip” where there are four or five nice bars next to each other, and leaving her husband to watch rugby with the neighbor. Little did we know that everyone at the bars would be watching the rugby match as well, but no matter. We had a great time, chatting away ourselves.


We talked about tomorrow’s plans as the girls didn’t know when their ride was leaving so we tentatively agreed to meet up the following day. Back at Leigh’s house, I headed into my “sleep-out” which is like a separate unit from the house- almost like a mother-in-law that has a bedroom and it’s own bathroom. Leigh says that they sometimes rent it out during the really popular concert or art deco weekends when the accommodations are booked out in the city. It was divine!

The following morning, I got up and going as Leigh was going to drop me off at the Napier Prison tour at 9:30. It was a really interesting tour, as it’s the oldest prison in New Zealand, and to see the accommodations, I was appalled to find out that it just stopped operating as a prison in 1993. Now, it’s been converted into a hostel where you can actually come and stay! The tour was enough for me.



We learned about the quarry across the way that the prisoners had to work at in order to build their own wall secluding them inside. Before the prison, it had actually been used as an army barrack during New Zealand’s 1860 wars between Maori tribes and the British (with some Maori tribes fighting against the British, but others joining with them to fight against rival tribes…. Sounds familiar.) It then began holding prisoners on their way out to the Catham islands and continued as a prision up until the 1990s!

There were  a lot of interesting stories- like about people being buried standing up as when they were executed they were considered such bad people that they weren’t even given the respect of having their soul be laid to rest, and their punishment followed them into the afterlife. Other stories told of how prisoners would make copy of keys in soap or mud so that they could escape and would take orders from what other prisoners wanted from town. They would then climb the wall and scale the hill into town below and run their errands, but always returned to their cell at the end of the day!

None of these stories can actually be confirmed, and are just collected from actual former prisoners, or guards, etc because the government apparently keeps all the records confidential. Interesting as they don’t release how many people were executed or the maximum number of inmates, etc. We did see the hanging yard, where hanging still happens today- but this time it’s clothes from the backpackers staying! (There’s a whole about four/five stones from the top where the rope came out from!)


However, hanging stopped in 1879 and New Zealand banned capital punishment back in in 1957! At  the end of the tour we were able to take fake mug shots, which I of course took advantage of!



Leigh picked me back up on her way back from shopping and we headed home to plan the rest of our day. We decided to meet up with Molly and Kelly before they headed out of town and go over to the Filter Room- an ale and cider house. It was a wet afternoon and apparently people had the same idea us, for it was pretty popular for 12:30 on a Sunday. It’s a really cool place, where for ten dollars you get 6 decent size classes of your choice from about 10 beers or 10 hard ciders! Leigh and I split a tray so we picked three each- I of course picking ciders- and tasted away. Here are the Washingtonains enjoying their beverages down under!

 The girls’ ride back down to Wellington came to pick them up around two so we said our goodbyes and as they headed back down south, we headed back to Leigh’s house for a relaxing, rainy Sunday evening.

I was excited to get to go to Leigh’s school with her on Monday. Leigh only works every Monday and Wednesday, doing consistent relieving (i.e. substitute) work for the various professional development days that consistently happen at her school so it’s a great opportunity for me to see another New Zealand school.



4 thoughts on “Napier Weekend

  1. my goodness- you just keep packing in the experiences!
    how fun for you!!
    getting tired yet?

    ( although I don’t think that mug shots are fun or funny- reminds me of Michael Moore’s “Roger & Me” where the city’s elite got to “party” in the newly constructed jail for all the poor and unemployed the day before it opened- sicko – oops that is a different movie))

  2. My mom and I actually stayed in that prison backpackers when we were in Napier. It was an interesting experience, particularly the showers. You’ve certainly covered a lot of ground in a short time!

  3. H,
    Let me say again how much I am enjoying reading along and keeping up with your travels and adventures. I want to send you somewhere just so you can write about it. (something tells me you’d have more fun anyway)
    I only have one question: why is it when you go to NZ you’re all nature woman and adventure gal and when we’ve visited each other in our respective cities all we manage to do is eat, drink, and watch Buffy…ok, that’s more of an observation really.
    -not that I’m complaining, it’s just that when next we see each other it’s all about the flora and the fauna baby.
    Oh, and wet suits!!

    ps. I don’t know if it’s the look you were going for but, you so don’t look like the hardened criminal in that mug shot.
    just sayin.

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