As it’s now a whole week into January, I thought I should think of a title that wasn’t based on a Christmas song. I hope you all had a very good break (if you had time off work), and that you haven’t made any totally ridiculous New Year’s resolutions that are impossible to keep (totally ridiculous resolutions that are possible are acceptable, the sillier the better).
With just over three weeks left in Wellington (when did THAT happen?!), I’ve now reached that point where I have to start thinking about packing, winding up my life here and, that job everyone loves, showing my room to prospective tenants. Can you feel my enthusiasm coming at you through the screen?
All clouds have a silver lining, however, and in my case it’s a pretty awesome silver lining. In just over three weeks, I’ll be flying up to Auckland to meet up with my parents for the first time in a year. We’re going to spend 3 and a half weeks travelling this amazing country, and I get to show them some of the places I fell in love with along the way. You’re all going to get the pleasure of seeing me and my equally-short father visiting Hobbiton (in Dad’s case, this may be under duress. I’m forcing him to go with me :P). Good times are definitely yet to come. Plus, I get a month off before I need to start thinking about jobs again. Always a plus!
It’s still far too early to start reflecting on my time in Wellington and New Zealand as a whole, so let’s get back to the point of this post. My trip to the Bay of Islands back in December.
Previously: A weekend in Auckland and a trip to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island.
Day 2 in Paihia was my rest day. I spent the day exploring the town, walking along the beach and just generally enjoying the sunshine. There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday. Paihia itself isn’t very big, but it’s a sweet little town in a beautiful setting. Accommodation ranges from the party hostels to motels to spa resorts. I was very glad to be there before the mad rush of the main summer season (starting from Christmas, so I was about a week ahead of it), as I imagine it changes completely when the hotels and hostels are fully booked. Fun fact about Paihia: the first ever recorded game of cricket in New Zealand was played on one of the beaches there on 20th December 1832. I’m sure someone out there, somewhere, will find this fact to be fun. Possibly.
Day 3 was boat trip day. When one is visiting the Bay of Islands, it’s only logical to take a boat trip to see, you know, islands. In this case, I had booked the trip as I wanted to see the Hole in the Rock and Cape Brett lighthouse. I had totally forgotten that it was advertised with the possibility of seeing dolphins should there be any in the vicinity. In case you hadn’t already guessed, there were dolphins in the vicinity on that day. This was a definite highlight not only of the boat trip, but of my time in New Zealand so far. Yes, it would have been nice if it hadn’t been chucking it down with rain at the time, but as the rain started just before we found the dolphins, and stopped soon after we left them, I’ll take it.
I really hope those two gifs and the video actually work. Please let me know if they don’t so that I can try to fix it!
After we left the dolphins in peace and moved on, the rain began to clear up. It was still overcast by the time we made it out to the Hole in the Rock, but by the time we stopped for lunch, it was brilliant sunshine. The Hole in the Rock is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. An island that is essentially a large, rocky cliff with a hole in the middle. We got to sail through the hole, which always sounds fun when you say it 😛
After this, it was back towards Te Rawhiti inlet, stopping for lunch at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island (try saying that three times fast). By this point, the rain had cleared completely and the sun was shining. The bay was a peaceful spot, and I even went paddling in the warm water. Mainly to soothe the many, many mosquito bites on my legs, but still. Speaking of many mosquito bites, it’s been three weeks since I got back, and while the bites have gone down, the remaining red marks make it look like I’m recovering from some sort of horrible disease. Fun times.
The final stop on the tour was Russell, the township across the bay from Paihia. Russell was actually the first permanent European settlement and sea port in New Zealand. It was a rather lawless place with lots of taverns and brothels, giving it the nickname “the hellhole of the pacific”. After the Treaty of Waitangi and the subsequent establishment of the Colony of New Zealand (more on that shortly), Russell briefly became the administrative capital, before this was transferred to Auckland in 1841/42 and then Wellington in 1865. After Auckland became the capital, much of the trade moved away from Russell, leaving it a very quiet township. These days, it is a picturesque tourist spot, with a lot of the accommodation there now used as holiday homes. It really is very pretty.
On Friday, my final day in Paihia, I visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. For those of you that haven’t visited New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi was a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by various Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. Due to some rather large discrepancies between the English and te reo Māori versions of the treaty, both parties weren’t exactly agreeing to the same terms. The English-language version granted Britain sovereignty over New Zealand, gave the Governor the right to govern the country and specified that Māori were only able to sell their land to the Crown. The te reo Māori version, however, ceded governorship to the Crown rather than sovereignty, was understood to mean that the Governor would be there to oversee pākehā (those of European descent), and that they would be giving the Crown first refusal on land purchase, after which they could sell to anyone. Yay, colonialism! To cut almost 180 years of history very short, the Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 to investigate claims relating to actions or omissions by the Crown. Finally, though not until 2014, the Waitangi Tribunal found that the Māori signatories did not cede sovereignty to the Crown. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling really proud to be British right about now…
The Treaty Grounds as a tourist attraction includes a guided tour, cultural performance and access to the museum. Our tour guide was wonderful, presenting the tour as a timeline. The Grounds include the Treaty House, home of James Busby, who facilitated the signing. The house was left to ruin for many years, before being bought and restored by Lord Bledisloe in time for the centenary in 1940. There is also Te Whare Rūnanga (the House of Assembly), a carved meeting house built in the traditional style, but facing the Treaty House. This was also built for the centenary in 1940, and is where the cultural performance takes place. The Flagstaff marks the spot where the Treaty was first signed, and flies the three official flags that New Zealand has had since 1834. Finally, there is the waka house, housing the ceremonial war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua, also launched in 1940.
I would definitely recommend Waitangi to anyone visiting the Bay of Islands. I learnt a lot on my visit, and it’s just a pretty beautiful spot. In fact, even if you aren’t planning a trip there, go over to their website and read about it. You’ll learn something new, and they will explain it much better than I can.
Well, that’s about it, really. All that was left was me travelling back to Auckland and then flying home to Wellington. Oh, yes, we had a bit of an interesting landing – coming in to land at Wellington airport, we descended towards the runway, and at about the point where you would expect the landing gear to descend, we start going up again. The captain had decided to turn around and try again from the opposite direction due to wind tunnelling on the runway. That, or he misjudged it and didn’t want to say so.