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Published: March 3rd 2014
February Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Today sees our last port of call in New Zealand, having sailed overnight we arrived at anchor off Waitangi in the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is in the northern region of North Island and is renowned for its silvery beaches and a coastline of bays and islands.
This is a tender port and we landed at the small pier on Waitangi.
Waitangi is famous for the historic pact between Britain and the Maori tribes, signed in 1840, the Maoris accepted British sovereignty and in return we agreed to protect Maori land. As mentioned in a previous blog the true implications of the treaty were questioned and this led to the infamous ‘Land Wars’. The treaty is still regarded as a true affirmation of Maori rights and Waitangi day is still celebrated every 6 February.
Our Queen (Liz to her mates) visited Waitangi in 1990 for the annual celebrations.
Our trip today was something completely different. After tendering to the small pier we were met by a group who were going to
take us by war canoe (Waka), yes I said war canoe up the Waitangi River to the Harurua falls.
We knew what we were in for, some of the people who had signed up for this were a little perplexed when they were asked to don life jackets and pick up a paddle. We were advised that we could get our feet wet, we were ready, others were in patent leather shoes etc oblivious hat we all had to paddle the canoe upriver!!!
After some basic training, stick paddle in water and pull backwards (to a Maori chant) we were ready to rock and roll. Thirty two to a canoe, a two hulled catamaran, sixteen a side and we were off, shooting the bridge upriver towards the falls. After about 20 minutes of paddling, most of the canoe were gasping so we had to have 10 minutes, this happened a few times before we reached the falls. I forgot to say at the beginning that this was the first time Cunard had run this trip so it was new for everybody. It was about 12.30 when we reached the falls and we actual another
party were due at start the tour at 1pm – Oops!!
The falls were a bit of a disappointment but in lots of ways the paddling to them for was the best part of it. I suppose having been molly-coddled for the last 6 weeks it was nice to use a bit of positive energy up.
Going back down to the pier was easier especially when we had an outboard motor, and we needed to motor because when we got back the next tour party were beginning to gather.
Unfortunately we did not get up to the Treaty House, this was where in 1840 the Waitangi Treaty was drawn up and is considered as one of New Zealand’s most important historic sites.
All in all a lovely day, good weather, a good laugh (thanks Kim & Toni – the Barcelona boys) and good to burn a bit of energy off. So back to the ship for a well deserved CREAM TEA!!!
A good way to finish our time in New Zealand with Sailaway early afternoon for our journey across the Tasman Sea.
Next stop Sydney, Australia
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