Akaroa and Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Akaroa is a New Zealand town with a French flavor. The names of the streets are French and also the shops. We enjoyed our visit here and did a surprising amount of shopping for such a small town. But I was very impressed with the quality of goods. We visited a gem store called “Fire and Ice”  which had in house designed jewelry. I will admit that we bought a couple of items. We also visited a wool store and bought several wool items for gifts, plus a sweater (or jumper,as they say here) for Ed. The wool is very unique to New Zealand. It is a combination of Possum and Merino. It was a very casual day for us in Akaroa as we just shopped and wandered around.

Akaroa

Akaroa NZ bench on the water

Akaroa 25

Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand

Bay of Islands is another popular NZ tourist destination, although there is no large town here to speak of – just a collection of smaller places. Our cruise ship is anchored a ways out so we must, once again, take a tender in. Rather than take one of many sightseeing excursions to other islands, such Russell or Urupukapuka, we opt for having an historical focus to our visit here. Thus we spent a good portion of the day at the Waitanga Treaty Grounds where we learned a great deal about the history of New Zealand. I highly recommend that if you are coming to New Zealand that you would come here because what you learn here will lay a good foundation for understanding this country’s history and culture.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

First, a little about the history of New Zealand. New Zealand was settled first by Polynesians about 700 years ago. A Dutchman by the name of Abel Tasman landed in 1641, and mistakenly believing it to be a part of Australia, called it Staten Island. Later it was renamed Nieuw Zeeland. Then in 1769 the great explorer Captain James Cook extensively charted both the North and South Islands of New Zealand and also gave the Bay of Islands its name. The Bay of Islands was the first area in New Zealand to be settled by Europeans.

The Treaty of Waitangi  is the founding document of the nation of New Zealand. It was signed here, at Waitangi, Bay of Islands, on Feb. 6, 1840. This agreement was made between, and signed by, representatives of the British Crown and of Maori tribal groups.  The Treaty paved the way for the British Crown to govern the country and offer protection to the interests of the Maori people, while validating the Maori chiefs’ authority. The process took nearly 8 months and about 50 meetings. It was a successful treaty overall.

The Treaty Grounds feature the historic Treaty House, the magnificently carved meeting house and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe.

Our tour guide of Maori descent (below – in case you looked up – he isn’t real :-)), gave a very interesting historical presentation. Then we attended a show presented by students of Maori descent. 

After spending several hours at this interesting cultural experience, we head out to explore. On our way, I spot what looks like the web of the funnel web spider. I am both repelled and excited about finding this web. While the bite of the New Zealand funnel spider can be very painful, at least it is not potentially deadly like the Australian or Sydney funnel spider.

Funnel Spider web?

The Bay of Islands is so named because of the many islands – 144 of them, but I think it could also be called the Bay of Boats, obviously because there really is only one way to get from island to island (although there is a helicopter tour available). It is interesting to see how many different kinds of vessels you can see on the water – from the smallest canoe to large cruise ships. We share our day in port with another cruise ship from NCL. 

After a busy day, we are eager to return to our cruise ship to grab something to eat and drink and to rest a while on our veranda and enjoy the views.

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