We set off today and started with a visit to Waitangi where New Zealand was born and the treaty signed. The treaty house, Marae, Maori meeting house and war canoes were very impressive and of course it was only a few days since waitangi day was celebrated on 6th February. We heard there were also celebrations in London as well.
From Waitangi we drove through the picturesque towns of Paihia and after crossing on the ferry reached Russell where the maori wars were fought and flagpole kept being cut down. The oldest church in New Zealand had bullet holes as this was the centre of the fighting initially.
We drove to the viewpoints and got some tremendous views of the Bay of Islands and all the Bays in the area.
Dinner was at a lovely restaurant in the centre of Keri Keri.
Today was a long drive first to Waimate mission house and then on to the West coast to Opononi where the Dolphin statue recalls the years when a dolphin took up residence at Opononi and played with the children.
We went then to Waipoua forest and saw the great Kauri tree Te mana which is the largest volume of Kauri tree still surviving. A photo is on the earlier pages.
We then drove down to dargaville for lunch and on to Matakohe where there is a brilliant Kauri museum showing all the things historically made and uses of Kauri as well as how it was milled.
This was the highlight of the trip to the bay of islands as we took a sand dune rider 4 wheel drive up the 90 mile beach and on to cape Reinga stopping to visit a Kauri forest and Boogie board down huge sand dunes. The worst part was climbing to the top of the sand dune before boarding down at speed almost ending up in the stream.
At Cape Reinga the most northerly point in New Zealand where the Tasman meets the Pacific and legend has it that Maori spirits leave New Zealand from this point.
A leisurely day around Keri Keri where we visited the stone store and mission house and joined the National Trust again.
We did some shopping in the town and visited a chocolate shop as well as some crafts houses. In the afternoon we went back to Pahia and watched a large striped Marlin being weighed in. In the evening we went to a New Zealand history and cultural show at Waitangi in the Maori meeting house which was one of the best shows we have attended.