The past few days have been rainy and grey; a large depression is moving across the islands. 🙁 No matter how scenic a scenic route is, it’s never much fun in the rain. We decided to drive from Rotorua to Auckland without many stops on the way. Problem is that even Auckland in the rain isn’t much fun so we didn’t stay long there either.. In hope of better weather we traveled further up north the next day, towards Paihia at the Bay of Islands. We’re staying in a nice motel for three nights and will be doing some day trips from here. So today we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, only 1 km down the road. It’s the historic place where a treaty between Maori tribes and the British was signed in 1840, mainly in an effort of the British to stop the French from claiming rights on New Zealand territory. New Zealand became part of the United Kingdom but there has been a lot of discussion about the treaty ever since. One of the reasons being that the Maori translation of the English text can be interpreted in different ways than the original.
The grounds are a beautiful place and the guided tour, by a Maori of course, was very nice. The largest mono hull canoe in the world is stored here, a Maori war canoe built in 1940, which is still used for ceremonial purposes today. It is built of three Kauri trees, New Zealand’s largest tree, and weighs 12 tons. It gets 6 tons heavier when the dry hull sucks up water when it is afloat… It takes at least 80 ‘warriors’ to paddle this monster but at the same time it holds a record for fastest mono hull canoe: 51 km/h. After this fascinating tour we decided to take the ferry across the bay to Russell, place of the first European settlement on NZ ground and later notoriously known as ‘The Hell Hole of the Pacific’ because of the lawless Australian convicts who settled here.