Waipawa, Napier and the Longest Place Name in the World — Hawke’s Bay Trip: Day 1

Last Monday, my friend Johanna bussed up to Palmy for our Hawke’s Bay road trip. For those who don’t know, Hawke’s Bay is the C-shaped (or hook-shaped, if you’re into pirates) bay in the central part of New Zealand’s north island.

The largest city in the area is Napier. After a devastating earthquake in 1931, the city decided to rebuild all of its buildings in an Art Deco style to attract tourists, as a means to help boost the economy again. Well, it’s still working! The Art Deco gives Napier a distinct feel unlike anywhere else in the country.

After picking up our rental car, a fuel-efficient little Toyota Clavia, we headed north. Here’s the route we took on Day 1:

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 2.38.21 PM

The nameless white circle denotes the longest place name in the world. We mistakenly took a wrong road that we thought would lead to it. While we lost a few minutes, we were rewarded with some beautiful New Zealand scenery, so it worked out in the end:



Some adorable sheep and lambs gawked at us, but ran away as soon as we got out of the car. Good thing the view was still lovely.


After some backtracking, we finally came across the world’s longest place name a few kilometres up the road. Here’s its corresponding sign in all its 85-character glory (minus a few I’m blocking):


That’s Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. Here’s the meaning:


For anyone planning on driving to Napier from Taumata (how the locals refer to the place without using a lung’s worth of oxygen), you should be warned a nice chunk of the road between Porangahau to Waipukurau is gravel. Concerned with denting the rental car, I drove a leisurely but irritatingly slow 15-20 kms per hour for about half an hour.

On the plus side, during this time we were afforded some gorgeous shots of the ocean framed by sheep-laden farmland. Sadly, as there was nowhere to pull over, I didn’t get any shots of this. (In retrospect, we didn’t see another car for an hour, so I would have been find stopping in the middle of the road. Ah, hindsight. Just know that it was breathtaking.)

At long last, the gravel road ended, and Johanna and I agreed we’d never been so happy to see asphalt. We continued driving until we hit the small town of Waipawa, where we stopped for lunch. After grabbing some deli items at the town’s only grocery store, we ate at a nearby park. From there I could just see the tops of a church that intrigued me. I’ve always loved taking photos of old churches. So we headed there next. Turns out it was called St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.


I just like how this turned out with the sun behind it.


From there we checked out the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum. Most people who know me know of my obsession with genealogy, so I was keen to check out a museum that focused on immigrants to the region in the late 1800s. I found the following flier particularly amusing:


Apart from the exhibits that showed the daily lives of these immigrants, the museum included impressively thorough displays pertinent to WWI, particularly focusing on the people from Hawke’s Bay who fought in the war as soldiers, worked as nurses or supported the war effort on the home front.

One mural there displayed the lyrics to In Flanders’ Fields, a poem whose lyrics we sang in my high school choir. It’s also featured on a Canadian bill.


Overall, I was quite impressed with how much this small-town museum offered. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in history (particularly Kiwis) if passing through Waipawa.

Around 5 p.m., Johanna and I made it to Napier. We checked into our YHA and crossed the street to dip our toes in the water. I’d forgotten the majority of the beaches in Napier were rocky, but we made do. The land in the distance shows the far north end of Hawke’s Bay.


With the few daylight hours remaining, Johanna and I walked around town, taking shots of some of the Art Deco.





Not sure I’m artsy enough to get the sculpture outside the i-Site.


Some poetry along the beach:


Another great thing about Napier is its affinity for gardens. Here’s some shots from the first one we visited (more to come in upcoming posts), along the waterfront:



Note Opossum World in the background. More on that later.

Just down from our hostel were the city’s iconic Six Sisters, which are all the same building, only reversed or painting different with colours. I accidentally blocked the last sister with a tree. Hope she doesn’t mind.


Someone had fun with these Birds of Paradise.


And finally, a sunset view from our room at the hostel. We even had a little balcony — just had to crawl out the window to use it.

There are lots of murals in Napier, even — as you can see here — on the public restrooms.



About Andrea Nicole

NZ enthusiast in the PNW. Internationally published writer, educator, grammar nerd, genealogist, and all-around storyteller. Recovering homebody. @Whitworth and @WGU alumna. #edchat
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