|Happy New Year
New. Year's Eve. Up, breakfasted and off to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, five minutes away. The Grounds are where the Waitangi Treaty between Britain and the Maoris was signed, establishing certain rights and protections for the Maoris and which is considered to be New Zealand's founding document and the Treaty Ground the birthplace of New Zealand. The land overlooks the Bay of Islands and is a wonderful setting for the Maori Meeting House or Te Whare Runanga, built on traditional lines, opposite what is now called the Treaty House (originally The Residency - of the British representative) at the centenary of the signing of the treaty. The House has panels from many tribes from all over New Zealand and each different from the other, according to the tribal tradition. There is also a long shed housing a ceremonial war canoe or waka, called Ngatokimatawhaorua (!) some 35 metres long, which requires 76 paddlers to handle it. This was built in 1990 and is used every Waitangi Day as part of those celebrations. We also saw a troupe of Maoris perform their traditional greeting followed by songs and dances together with demonstrations of traditional weapons in the Meeting House. It was great fun as the Maoris carried the whole thing off in great humour.
Because we stayed to watch this performance we had to change our plans; driving to Auckland was going have us arrive late and we expected the campsite to be full nearer Auckland, so we returned to the Paihia campsite for another night with the promise of fireworks at midnight. Having secured our site, and a good job we did as it filled up shortly after, we drove to Kerikeri for lunch and food shopping. We'd noticed a butcher's shop on the way through previously and we were fed up with supermarket meat! Shopping accomplished we drove to the Haruru Falls on the Waitangi River. Very pretty horseshoe falls, not quite in full flow, about 10 metres high.
We followed the road past the falls on to an unsealed road that eventually led back past the Treaty Grounds, and had spectacular views over the Bay. Into Paihia again for an ice cream - it was a hot day, over 30 degrees! - and a walk around the town. We decided against a swim In the Pacific as the wind had got up and the water in the bay was quite choppy. Back to the campsite for a cold beer and to cook dinner (and to catch up with the blog!). As it was by now way past our usual bedtime, Ruth dropped off and slept while we waited for the fireworks at midnight.
Well we managed to rouse Ruth in time to wander down the road to the beach to watch the fireworks. Quite a few drunken youths along the beachfront but all very polite, except, sad to say some very drunk girls, but anyway the police were in evidence and removing cans of beer from the youngsters. The fireworks were great, they were set off from a barge in the bay and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Back to the camper for a wee nightcap and to look at the stars.
New Years Day
Up surprisingly early, showered etc, breakfasted, cleaned the camper (emptied the foul water tanks!), it all took a surprising amount of time and it was nearly ten o'clock before we set off for Auckland. Down Highway 1, it is only a two-way road until nearing Auckland when it becomes a toll road for a short while, basically for a tunnel through the hills. Quite a bit of traffic heading for Auckland, as if people were heading back after the Christmas/New Year break.
Auckland; a very modern city, spread out quite a way around the CBD. It has a very tall tower, the Sky Tower, some 328 metres high and many high rise office blocks. We toured briefly before heading out to find the campsite. The campsite was in the suburbs and fortunately was only half full, so no problem getting a site. The facilities were good, there was a kitchen, toilets and showers, all free though wifi was extra and apparently not very good. Internet access is a bit of an issue in New Zealand; it is rarely offered free and does not always offer good speed. We found it strange as almost all the way through SE Asia it was readily available.