My husband and I visited Paihia's Waitangi Treaty Grounds several years back and completely enjoyed the tour and exhibits. From the Busby's "Treaty House" to the Maori Meeting House and amazingly huge war canoe, WTG is absolutely worth your time.
However, if you are opposed to the destruction of managed feline colonies and animal cruelty (as I am), you may want to avoid Paihia all together. I encourage you to visit the FB Cats to Stay page for details to learn of the situation, concern of many citizens worldwide, and nasty responses from Paihia's elected officials. Americans, in particular should take note of the mayor's response that, in part, said we should" stop killing iraqis and afghans". Yes, he was deflecting and diminishing (there's more to his tirade) the lives of the cats. I hope readers will understand that the way to changing minds of such people is to hold them responsible for their actions and that their actions will hurt not only the felines and the caretaker, but also the community. When I mentioned this is my email, about posting on travel reviews, the response from a council member was "in the p.s....is that a threat or a promise." Speaks volumes.
One of the best day trips I have ever done - full of information, history, activity and great fish and chips!
You have an early pick-up in a specially designed off-road bus. It is air-conditioned and has comfortable airline style seats with good leg room. I didn't get to try these seats because there was one passenger over and, being a single, I got to travel up front with the driver!
From Paihia we travelled through Kerikeri to pick up passengers from Taipa Bay with some great scenery along the way. At Taipa Bay we also stopped for coffee and picked up our picnic lunches.
On to Gumdiggers Park - this is a fascinating look at the industry of gathering Kauri resin or gum from the buried kauri forest. See ancient buried trees and learn about the 'gum diggers' and their association with 'gum boots'.
From here we drove to the top of New Zealand and the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. After time to explore here we went off-road to the huge Te Paki sand dunes where boogie boarding was the order of the day.
Tired and sandy we hopped back on board for our drive along Ninety Mile Beach with stops to photograph the 'Hole in the Rock of the West' and also to dig for pipi's.
A stop on the way home for coffee and a toilet break at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom was welcome but the highlight of the return trip was the fish & chip supper at the Mangonui Fish & Chip Shop - not included in the price.
What a great day!
On 6th February 1840 a treat between the British Crown and various Mâori cheifs was signed at Waitangi thus giving the treaty its name. Possibly due to translation difficulties the English and Mâori versions differ causing a 'grey zone' in interpretation. The British view was that they had sovereign rights of the country and its people while the Mâori thought that while they had ceded governance in return for protection they still had the right to run their own affairs. Consequently the Treaty of Waitangi has not featured much in courts or parliament until the 1970's when a tribunal was formed to investigate breaches of the treaty and possible ways of compensation.
The treaty grounds are now under the care of the Waitangi National Trust. They are a great place to visit to learn about this important part of New Zealand history from well informed local guides.
Recorded history has the first Mâori settlers arriving in the Bay of Islands about 700 years ago. The first European to sight this magnificent bay was Captain James Cook in 1769 and it was the first area of European setlement.
The bay has several inlets from Mangonui in the north to Waikare in the south.
One of the most popular activites offered is sailing. Many people spend a day or more sailing around the many islands. Some have great picnic spots and others have private homes.
Urupukapuka Island is the largest of the the 144 islands in the bay and offers many activities from walking to kayaking and snorkelling. This island, as with all of the island in the estern bay, has been declared rat, mouse and stoat free.
The lighthouse was established on Cape Brett in 1908 but it was decomissioned in 1978 and replaced by an automated beacon.
The area is now under the control of the Deparment of Conservation and the last of the three keepers houses is open to visitors. It has been converted into a trampers hut for hikers on the Cape Brett walkway.
It is possible to reach the hut by boat and many hikers use water taxi for one of the legs of the journey.
It was like, we've done Pekapeka Bay, it's overcast, might as well go for a drive, not knowing which direction.
Thus is was that we discovered Million Dollar Drive. What a name; I loved it and I loved the drive. It takes you above Tauranga and Matauri bays and in between gives you ocean and land scenery that makes you want to keep on driving forever.
Sadly, in the VT format it doesn't quite do them justice but, if you blow them up you'll get some idea of how good it was.
If you're looking for it on a map, it's the road that loops east of Kaeo and when you see some of the views you'll find it hard to disagree with the title given to road.
There are signs indicating a tourist drive so just follow those and you'll end up where we did.
I highly recommend a sailing trip in the Bay of Islands. You can actually do this with the fastest (if there is wind of course) commercial sailing catamaran in New Zealand. They do day trips including lunch on an island where you can do some nature walks or enjoy the beach. They will take you to the Hole in the Rock for amazing photo opportunities. Unfortunately we had bad wind conditions and did only see it from far away. However, we had lots of fun (they even let us jump from top of the mast) and the scenery of the islands is simply great.
13.03.2011 Someone just contacted me saying that a new company took over and is now organizing this trip. They are called Lions New Zealand. Apparently they use a different boat which could make a difference to the sailing experience if you are interested in special boats (ie fast ones). The listed homepage below still seems to be working though. Guess you will have to investigate a bit....
It's fair to suggest that I had few expectations about the Kauri Museum. I mean, really, how much can you stand when the subject is just one specie of tree? Someone had suggested to allow two hours and we had, but I fugured we'd be out in under an hour.
How wrong can you be?
I've seen museums all throughout Europe and Australasia and this compares favourably with any I've come across. It is outstanding and would be on my list of ten things not-to-miss when you're in New Zealand.
For openers we went into the old post and telegraph office adjacent to the main museum and here came across someone who may even have been a relative of mine (see pic 2). Her name was Margaret Smith and she was our introduction to the dummies throughout the museum who have been modelled in such a lifelike manner you have to do a double take at times, so realistic are they.
We were hugely impressed and hadn't even walked in the main building yet.
Paihia (pronounced pie-heah) is a key town on the Bay of Islands inasmuch as it sits at the eastern base of the bay and is easily accessed by car and tourist coach.
There's plenty of accommodation here at a variety of prices and styles and restaurants to cater for most palates.
It's clearly a town that would like to expand more but is restricted by the contours surrounding it, i.e., it's very hilly. This landscape's shortcomings were clearly on display in 2007 when torrential rain caused an uncountable number of landslides.
Everywhere we drove there was evidence of the fragility of the soil and building blocks around here would have to be very carefully surveyed.
Even when we were there there was minor flooding (pic 3) and many was the road edge that had disappeared in a downward direction on some steep slope.
It wasn't all doom and gloom. On top of a small rise and park which affords the view over the bay I used in the intro shot there were some lovely yellow flowers which were intertwined with a mass of cobwebs.
You can't help but notice this little charmer on the main street. In fact, it's one of New Zealand's best known churches.
"Less than a decade after the first Christian service was held at the Bay of Islands on Xmas Day 1914, Rev. Henry and Mrs Williams arrived on August 3rd, 1823 to establish the missionary settlement at Paihia. On their arrival, Mrs Williams with her three children went to reside in Kerikeri while the Rev. Williams set to work to erect temporary buildings at the new station.
On September 15th, Mrs Williams came to join her husband and her journal states that there was a Church, built of raupo, which was opened for Divine Service on Sunday, September 21st, 1823. This was the first Church ever built in New Zealand.
The Reverend William Williams with his wife joined his brother Henry, arriving at Paihia on March 26th, 1826. This gentleman was a classical scholar of Oxford University and also had a considerable medical knowledge which was of the greatest benefit to the Mission.
In the year 1828, the raupo church was replaced with a lath and plaster structure, which served until 1856 when a wooden church was built. This was used until 1874, when it was dismantled and another wooden church erected, incorporating much of the old timber. In 1925 the 1874 church was dismantled. It made way for the stone Church of St Paul, the fifth to be erected on the site. It was built as a lasting memorial to Henry and William Williams.
The stone came from near Kawakawa and the kauri beams from near Waikare.
The stained glass window was installed on the occasion of the Williams family reunion to commemorate 175 years since CMS missionary brothers Henry and William Williams landed in Paihia. Details and photos can be found in the church.
The first organ to be brought to New Zealand was used in Paihia Church. It arrived between 1824 and 1826. Later moved to Pakaraka it is now in the Wanganui Museum. The present organ is of similar design and vintage.
This was by far the best thing we did on our latest 10 day trip of NZ. Price is about $160 per person, and we felt we got quite a lot for our money during the 24 hours, especially considering that to hire a motor boat to trip around the islands yourself for a day would cost more than this, without accommodation, BBQ dinner on board, and other activities such as fishing, air rifle shooting competition (where you shoot at a life buoy being towed behind the boat), snorkelling, kayaking, swimming and lunch (supply your own) the next day on a deserted island with a beautiful sandy beach. Plenty of time to relax on board while the boat cruises around.
To see my full travel journal of this great trip, see the travelog.
A few minutes away lies the impressive Te Whare Runanga Meeting House, which was built using traditional Maori engraving that, incorporate the techniques of hundreds of tribes in NZ. In a sense, this is a mix of most of the styles of Maori tribal meeting houses. It has no official name and no one Maori tribe can call it its own.
The Treaty Ground is a large grass field with a giant flagstaff marking the location of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. The tour of the complex continues as they let you into the Treaty House Residence, which was the home to some of early British government appointed officials to NZ.
The historic grounds are now open to the public and are managed by a trust. Waitangi is located on a beautiful spot overlooking the Bay of Islands. One of the price exhibits is a giant Whare Waka, which is a Maori war canoe over 35 meters in length. It was built in the mid 1900's from three giant Kauri trees using traditional building techniques (some of which were long gone).
Every country has its own historic start. One can say that NZ as a country of cooperating people started on this same spot. As the British migration moved in waves into NZ, something had to occur to appease the mad wave of Maori. The new technology, disease, and customs brought by the Europeans broke havoc with their culture. As if it weren't enough, in the early to mid 1800's, the new territory wasn't part of any one nation. As a matter of fact, France nearly had a hand in colonizing and taking over the British in NZ. Feeling the pressure and realizing they were doomed, several of the Maori tribe leaders met and congregated in this very same place on 1840. The result was the Treaty of Waitangi, where the British guaranteed continued Maori control of their land, rights, and possessions in return for the Maori's loss of sovereignty. A few dozen chiefs signed the treaty immediately. The treaty soon toured NZ and before long over 500 Maori tribal chiefs had signed the treaty. From this day forth, NZ was officially a part of the British Empire, thus being part of the New South Wales colony of Australia. A year or so later, NZ became an individual colony of Britain.
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