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Published: April 7th 2008
Couple of days in the bay of Islands. 5 hours on a coach up, 4 hours back, lots of yawning, few nice views though.
The area has quite an interesting history which appealed possibly more than the views. Wonder where I get that from.
(no guarantee of accuracy, had potted history from bus and ferry drivers, and have been sat on a bus for hours letting brain melt)
The Maori where living there quite happily until the Brits arrived. (similar story to the rest of the planet) They knocked 7 bells out of each other for a while, then being pretty peacable sorts, both sides opted for a truce. "Treaty of Waitangi, 1840" The English then subtely failed to explain what "Governership" of the area meant in their peace treaty. Neglected to translate the bit that said the country now belonged to the Britsh to sell on as they wished. When they worked out they'd been had, the Maori chiefs got stroppy. Resumed the fighting, but properly this time, for 40 years. Poor English got confused when these warriors kept fighting for a bit then fleeing into the hills. Gorilla Warfare, very effective, but we had guns. Stalement. So they
No, that's not snow
got chatting again. Now, from an dumb tourists perspective, they seem to live in harmony. Both sides more or less respecting each other rights and customs. To be fair, I've just come from Australia where, despite obvious improvements over the last century (could only get better) all is not perfect. Harmony has been achieved, but serious damage has been done before they started to talk. The respect levels also don't seem as universal. But then, I've only been in Australasia for a short time so have only scratched the surface. Will be back!
Tour of the Islands today took in the snappily named "Hole In The Rock" in Cape Brett. Smallish hole, just big enough to fit a cruise ship through. As the boat went through, everyone up on the top deck with me cried out like children. Yey. Plus we saw a couple of seals. The once sensible adults were goading it into getting up, cheering when it yawned and sat up to admire the idiots who were interupting it's midday nap.
Also popped into Russell. Once a nice safe haven for sailors. While whaling ships were stocking up and getting repaired, the crew would head ashore
and get drunk and get laid. Nicknamed "Hell Hole of the Pacific", full of pubs and brothels. Looks a bit nicer now. The Christians moved in, built a few churches, and miraculously, every started behaving themselves. has been burnt down a few times, centre for a couple of pointless wars. It's also where the stroppy Maori's found the Union Jack offensive, cutting down the flag pole, 4 times, in protest at having their ancestoral land taken over by drunks. Very sensible.
Had superb walk yesterday. Walked along the coast for 2 hours, admiring the islands and the beaches. All very pretty. Then tried to find the nice route back through the forest. Simple looking path, staight line off a road, through the forest leading back to the road the hostel was on. It appeared on 2 maps so was confident it was there. Estimated 1km along road before path should be obvious. After walking for 30 mins, reaching the top of the hill, searching round the next 10 corners and finding nothing, started to give up hope. Decided that may as well continue as retracing steps would still be a longer route. 20 mins later a path finally appeared.
Lined up the few landmarks I could see and reasoned this must be my path. Great. Had to hurry as getting dark, but was finally making progress. Walked steeply downhill for 10 minutes, not exactly as described in the brouchure, but the mild panic i'd been feeling for the last 20 mnutes didn't get any worse. 5 mins later, spotted a familiar looking house. Short climb back to the road. Arse! Pointless loop, no closer to finding path. Then it started raining. Not the feeble sort I've had to date. No, this was the sort that soaks you in seconds. Cowered under a tree for a few minutes moping. Eventually opted to head back to main road and walk the 6km back to the hostel along a really dull main road. Possibly a little safer than the woods. Being New Zealand, and the far north, there were hardly any cars on the road. Never thought I'd be as happy to see the cold scabby hostel.
Quickly fed myself and colapsed in front of the tv. Simpsons, Ugly Betty and Gray's Anatomy. (If anyone watches the latter, it was the episode where the 2 ambulances crash. Left it at an irritating
climax, what happens next? Would be really surprised if I get to see the next episode)
Have also spent a few hours in Auckland. On the way up to the Bay of Islands and tonight. Flying out of here tomorrow. Ugly city. Been up the SkyTower so I'm happy to say I've seen all of Auckland. To be fair, it doesn't look that bad, in parts, in the dark. When we arrived, the bus driver pointed out the large number of Asian settlers. "you get confused what country you're in" and to be fair, over half the faces I see are Asian. That's because all the Kiwi's have more sense and know the rest of the country is so much prettier. Ah well, more glorious empty space for the rest of us to enjoy.
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