Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday in the Bay of Islands

Our first stop after leaving Auckland was the Bay of Islands. It is near the north end of the North Island and a beautiful holiday spot. We anchored in the bay and tenders took us to the port near the Waitangi Treaty House. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840 between the Maori Chiefs and the British Crown and became the basis for the working relationship between the two groups.

We got to the port about noon, and our friends Greg and Chris Mutton met us almost immediately. They live about an hour away in Whangarai and came over to spend the day with us. It was wonderful to be driven around to the three areas with historic and scenic significance. First we went up the hill for a view back over the bay and to see Haruru Falls. From there we drove to Paihia, a major tourist area. There were lots of interesting shops and cafes. We had a mussel, prawn, and crab fritter on the street for lunch. They were being sold to raise funds for the local ambulance service. Then we found a cafe and had some tea.

From Paihia we took a short car ferry to Russell, the early capital of New Zealand. We drove up to Flagstaff Hill, where Maoris repeatedly cut down the post where the flag was flown. The oldest church in NZ is in Russell, Christ Church. It was surrounded by a lovely graveyard. Inside it isn’t very large, but is quite lovely. The pews are covered with cushions upholstered with needlework designs by local women. After a look at Long Beach, we took the ferry back to Paihia and they dropped us at the dock for the tender. 

We are enjoying the scenery and beauty of this country, but it has also been a special treat to see old friends here. I’m sure today will remain as a highlight of our trip.

Inside Christ Church in Russell

Outside Christ Church

Graveyard - many said "fell asleep on [date]"

Hauru Falls

Kayakers at Hauru Falls

Dan, Chris, Greg, Anne

Long Beach

Chris and Greg at falls

Needlework pew cushions at Christ Church

View of ship from Flagstaff Hill

View over bay

Loveseat carved from root system - very comfortable!

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