(February 11th 2007)

While in Northland, one place everyone has to visit is the Waitangi Treaty grounds. This is where the British signed a treaty with the Maori people basically giving birth to the New Zealand nation in 1840. At the treaty grounds there is the treaty house built in 1834, a Maori meeting house (or whare runanga)built to commemorate the centenary of the signing, a huge Maori war canoe which is launched each Waitangi day, and a visitor centre. There is also a small theatre which hosts Maori traditional singing and the haka. Thankfully I was hiding at the back when they asked for a few guys to perform the haka with the pros, so I was saved certain embarrassment. The war canoe (called Ngatokimatawharorua, try saying that after a few pints) was also built to commemorate the centenary in 1940, is one of the largest in the world and made from the trunks of three massive kauri trees. It takes a minimum of 74 paddlers to operate (see the photo section) and you find it hard to imagine anything that big being paddled anywhere when you see it.

After lunch sat in the carpark (it was raining) we went to Kerikeri just to have a look around. It’s an old town by NZ standards and is home to the oldest wooden house (1822) and the oldest stone building (1835) all in a lovely little inlet called the Kerikeri Basin. On the way back we stopped to take a few photos of the bays before returning to the Cavalli Beach House for lovely things to eat.

Tomorrow we leave Northland by a differnet route to the one we arrived on. We’re going slightly north and travelling over to the west coast before heading south towards Rotorua. We’ve got two days to do the trip in so although a lot of driving it should be good.

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