We dedicated our final day in Napier to visiting the aquarium. Karyn (Rose's Mum) used to work there so kindly gave us a guided tour - complete with stories of her tenure, and introduced us to all the aquarium staff. It was really interesting and we got to see the rarest of sites - a kiwi (the bird) wiggling its bum. Now I know what you're thinking - kiwis are not aquatic but they are endangered so finding anywhere safe for them is good news (even if its a little out of place!). We also saw a friendly, blue penguin called Eric, a surprisingly docile tank of piranhas and a formaldehyde-pickled giant squid. As with many of the other aquariums - there was a tunnel so you could walk underneath sharks and rays. I'm not sure why people are so obsessed with the underside of sharks. Wouldn't it be better to see them from above?
Ever the treasure trove of oddities, the aquarium also had an exhibit dedicated to New Zealand's unique geography. The two islands are actually part of the much larger (submerged) continent, Zealandia. The 4.9 million square kilometre land mass is roughly half the size of the United States, though 94%
of it is underwater! Uniquely, Zealandia lies across both the Australian (to the West) and Pacific (to the East) tectonic plates. The result is a hugely diverse range of geological features for a relatively small pair of islands including, the Southern Alps, six volcanic regions (some still active!), and of course, alarmingly frequent earthquakes. Pub quiz here we come. We particularly enjoyed the display "Earthquake Survival Pack" which basically consisted of a torch, toilet roll and innumerable tins of Watties (Heinz) baked beans. Thankfully, we have all of the above in the van.
Once we'd seen all that the ocean has to offer - we went to get some tacos, (you may be noticing a strong food-related theme to this part of the trip), before heading up to the top of Bluff Hill which offers a great view of Napier Port and the surrounding bay. Back to the important part (food)- tacos were the dish of choice, as this particular establishment had decided to advertise using only a stick-drawing of a "Tacosaurus". Jane fell in love with the Tacosarus and I got to eat Mexican food so everyone's a winner! Napier is great place for the hungry and thirsty.