Friday, 23 February 2018

Nine Weeks In Napier- Part 4; City at Sea

Catch-up; and I've been waiting a long while to post this one. 

Remember I said on one of my Tauranga blogs, I'd love to see 'Ovation of the Seas'? Well it just happened that she was due in Napier a few days after we arrived.

I thought I'd head to the Bluff Hill Lookout to see her arrive, the lookout not only overlooks the Port of Napier, it has wide sweeping views out over Hawke Bay; south to Cape Kidnappers and north to Mahia Peninsula.

Due to the congestion around the lookout caused by sightseers on the narrow roads, during her last (and first) visit to Napier, all the immediate roads were closed to traffic. This meant a walk of about 1.5kms up hill and down dale to reach the lookout. Ovation wasn't due to arrive until 7am but I got there well in advance so I could see her come around the Cape and head across the Bay to the port.


There were quite a number of ships and commercial fishing boats at anchor offshore, I guess they had to wait their turn until after Ovation had berthed and her few thousand passengers has disembarked and gone for the day.


Once Ovation reached the breakwater two tugs steamed out to meet her. 


Here's something random for you; I have a personal connection with Napier Port's breakwater. Some of the rubble used to create the breakwater, once surrounded my childhood swimming pool. Much of breakwater rubble was once part of the Park Island 'Old People's Home' which collapsed in the 1931 Napier Earthquake. It then became the HB Hospital Board Farm which Dad managed for over 20 years. 

Most of the ruins were bulldozed over the sides of Park Island though some of the concrete foundations were left behind. Dad layed a floor and sealed one of these large concrete foundation squares to form our swimming pool. Many years later all the rubble (including the swimming pool) was transported to the Port to form the breakwater extension. You can read more about the farm (which is now Napier's Western Hills Cemetery) in this blog I did on a Living Memory

My sister Gaelyn, in the concrete foundation swimming pool
Moving right along (don't forget to click on the photos to view them in more detail)....

Logs waiting to be exported look like piles of toothpicks.


At 168,666 tonne, Ovation of the Seas is the fourth biggest cruise ship in the world and the biggest ship to visit New Zealand. She carries 4905 passengers and 1500 crew. 


Once the tugs reached her, they helped her maneuver around, ready to be backed into port.


There was a strong wind blowing and a low tide, the bow and/or stern thrusters on the ship stirred up the sea bed. 


There was about a 40 minute delay as they waited for the wind to drop and the tide to lift a little before Ovation...


...was carefully backed into her berth




A very long line up of tour and shuttle buses patiently waited to escort the passengers off the wharf...




Napier Port's tugs look like little egg cups compared with Tauranga's tugs and especially as they bobbed about in the churned up water.



Some passengers chose to stay and make use of the onboard facilities. The stand up surfing pool was popular and as soon as the ship had docked the waves started rolling. Ovation also has a sky diving simulator, rock climbing wall, dodgem cars, a circus school and an observation gondola on a hydraulic arm that rises 90 metres above the ship. I left before that was raised; you can see it in the photo above, at the front of the ship.


And wouldn't you know it, after closing the surrounding roads and making me walk all that way, there were only about a dozen people at the lookout and half of those were locals out on their morning strolls. And the only vehicles that made it to the top contained council workers who'd talked their way through the cordon!


One last photo looking out over the old port settlement of Ahuriri and the Ahuriri estuary to the hills of Poraiti behind. Before the 1931 earthquake, the inner harbour reached the base of the hills, the seabed rose 2 metres during the 'quake exposing most of the middle ground you can see here.

Perfume Point (a popular freedom camping spot in Napier) can be see on the right , the finger of land sticking out into the bay.



Footnote- I'll be out of internet range for a couple of weeks or so, so apologies but no blogs for awhile.

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