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February 21st 2017
Published: February 22nd 2017
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Bay of Islands 16th March

Day 2 Paihia & Waitangi

The birthplace of NZ, Waitangi inhabits a complex place in the Nations minds.

Demonstrated by a mixture of celebration and apathy that accompanies the nations birthday on Waitangi Day On February 6th. The long awaited Treaty was signed here between the Maori Chiefs and the British Crown, establishing British sovereignty depending if your reading the British or Maori versions of the Treaty!!!

Anyway a bit more of that later when we visit the different Missions in this part of the world as against the Mission Winery down in Hawkes Bay.

It seems like a long haul up to Paihia but it does turn out to be worthwhile.

A dry drive until the last crest and then the heavens opened.

Still it's warm rain.

Being early and before booking in to our accommodation we reacquainted ourselves with the area.

We have been here before with cruise ships, the first time paddling a Maori war canoe up to the Haruru Falls and last year just getting wet from when we set foot on land until we got back on the ship.

The rain didn't ease, you couldn't see the Treaty Grounds and the Falls were just a murky haze so plan B.

Drop the car off, cross the road, order food and a couple of glasses of wine.The Alongside restaurant sits on the wharf looking out over the bay towards Waitangi and Russell.

The Calimari was good, the second glass of Sauvignon even better.

Before returning to the Apartments, a call to Charlottes Kitchen a restaurant on the main wharf to book dinner, recommended by the receptionist.

Our accommodation was in the Waterfront Suites, a complex in the heart of Paihia, it was bigger than anticipated but with all the amenities you could wish for including a pool, if only it would stop raining.

I'd booked a haircut and I think the hairdresser had been upset with her previous client as she laid in to me with a pair of clippers as though she was shearing an old ewe.

I was glad to get out of the chair!!!

So to dinner, in the pouring rain to Charlottes Kitchen, this is a new restaurant since we were here last. Charlotte’s Kitchen was inspired by Charlotte Badger, but who is Charlotte Badger?

Well it’s quite a tale and no one is one hundred percent sure of exactly who Charlotte Badger was and her fate but this is the current version ..…

Charlotte Badger was said to be one of the first white women settlers in NZ – a criminal from the UK who stole a couple guineas and a silk handkerchief thereby finding herself sentenced to seven years' penal servitude in New South Wales at the Parramatta female factory. During her stay Charlotte became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl.

Part way through her sentence she found herself heading to Tasmania on board a ship called The Venus to complete a lesser sentence of becoming a house servant. This daring lady decided (along with her friend Kitty) that the prospect of servantry was not to her liking and rumour has it incited the mutiny of the crew of the Venus by convincing the men to take over the ship, joining in the fun with a fray and pistol herself. How she convinced these men to do such a deed - well you can only imagine!

Having secured the Venus, Charlotte, Kitty and friends pirated another vessel for supplies and then The Venus, with Charlotte, her daughter and Kitty and her male friends set sail for the Bay of Islands.

This is where the tale of dear Charlotte gets a bit murkier – but it is said that she took up with a Maori Chief and as with many historical stories the truth is not always clear, but what is clear is from all accounts, Charlotte Badger was a woman of interest, passion, strength, daring and just a little bit naughty!!!

Anyway I digress, food again, I said at the beginning of this trip it was going to turn into a food blog.

The recent storms are playing havoc with the local supplies, the oyster grounds were closed, and there was no swordfish on the menu.

Still a shared plate of fresh squid, flashed under the grill with a sauce followed by grouper for me and LJ having the most succulent sirloin steak perfectly cooked was sublime washed down with a bottle of Syrah from across the bay in Russell.

A good end to the day but it was still raining.

Our second day, weather wise could not have got off to a worst start. The rain at 5 am was torrential and was off and on until we ventured out.

Primarily to see where we may eat in the evening (told you it was a food blog).

What to do!

Venture to Kerikeri, to the Stone Store and Mission House at the Kerikeri Mission Station.

This is part of Heritage New Zealand and we were able to use our National Trust cards to gain entry (thanks John & Jackie).

The Stone Store has been open for business since 1836 and still provides a range of goods (and tat) for the tourists, there is some quirky stuff.

Up the stairs there is an insight in how the Mission was established and artefacts from the early Georgian period of the warehouse.

The Kemp House, built in 1822 still with its original boarding gives a snapshot of early European interaction with the Maori, centred in the river basin.

The Rev Samuel Marsden started the Mission with the permission of the Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika. There is an ongoing campaign to have the site recognised by UNESCO.

Across a footbridge is Rewas Village a mockup of a traditional Maori fishing village.

Returning to Paihia, still raining, it was booking a restaurant next door to the Apartment called Greens!!

A Thai/Indian cuisine. Starters were Thai followed by Indian mains.

Very odd tasting Masala, too sweet but great Kashmiri Naan and Dahl.

Third day in Paihia and what looked to be another poor weather day!!

Well the weather gods looked to be with us!!

A trip across the water to Russell in beautiful sunshine on the 'Happy Ferry '.

Once known as 'the hell hole of the Pacific ' people will be disappointed as they will have missed the orgies on the beach by some 170 years.

Another day another Mission, no wonder the Maoris were so screwed up.

This time we attended, sorry visited the Pompallier Mission who promoted Catholicism to the Maoris.

These missionaries translated religious texts into Maori, and assembled a printing press and established a tannery to produce leather book covers. The tannery is still in operation although they now use cow urine for the process. In earlier times they used human urine from the 'grog' houses which was collected by the down and outs in Russell.

Hence the term 'piss poor'.

The Printery produced thousands of books over the years all in Maori.

Lovely gardens as well, just a point here. Agapanthus, we pay a fortune for them from garden centres, all over NZ they grow like weeds, in the hedgerows, up farm drives, in fact where there's space there's Agapanthus!!!

Back to Paihia, and a late lunch at on the wharf watching the parascending and the ferries come back and forth. This place is really a buzzing place when the sun shines.

Still no oysters though on the Charlottes Kitchen menu!!

Moving back to Auckland for one night before heading South to Waitomo and New Plymouth.

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