Our stay in Russell over we drive the short distance to the ferry to take us back across to the mainland, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are only a short distance away, on our way up the coast to Taupo Bay, so we decided to stop for a visit the origins of modern-day New Zealand. At the entrance a Maori guide shows us around the site in a small group, we are shown the ten ton ceremonial long-boat laying on the shoreline. The weight of the boat means its not going anywhere fast, the housing was built after it was positioned on the shoreline. A short walk takes us up to the original Manor House where the Treaty was signed. At the entrance of the site there is a Museum explaining the Treaty and its effects on the Maori population at the time and the gradual growing acceptance of Maori cultural rights and beliefs into the modern New Zealand lifestyle.
A visit to the heart of Maori culture wouldn’t be complete without signing and dancing displays of Maori traditions, this takes place in front of the tribal village house, warriors come leaping out of the house, sneering and jumping, tongues out, spear at the ready. A tribal chief is selected from the visiting tribe (us) and before we all enter the house the chief has to be accepted as friendly and welcome by the Maori tribe. Shoes off, once inside the House we are regaled by singing and dancing by both male and female Maoris and of course shown the Hakka dance, this time around I didn’t have to jump up on stage as a volunteer to ‘perform’ as well, everyone was spared this time around.
The visit put a lot into perspective for me in terms of the original inhabitants and cultural beliefs of these fantastic islands and let’s be honest the way the newcomers (us Brits) went about messing things up for quiet a while for everyone at first. Still it is what it is, millions of people now love and travel to New Zealand each year and most want or do come back a second time, mostly I admit for the fantastic landscapes and activities but also because of the welcoming, friendly and relaxed Maori people whose Islands these ultimately are.
We set off in the afternoon for the northern coastline, we begin to depart into the less populated region of the Northland, for no particular reason other than a vague memory of a long forgotten rainy Sunday internet search, we turn off the Northern Highway and head hopefully for a remote bay not knowing what to expect. The road narrows over the hilly and twisting route down towards Taupo Bay, a small hamlet with more people in the crowded campsite than the village itself. You know you have struck gold when the campsite is filled with New Zealanders, not many tourist make it down here obviously to beautiful Taupo Bay. The beach Cove is a short walk along the road to a secluded bay with, clear waters, distant islands dotted out in the bay and a long sandy beach to wander along in the evening, the surrounding cliffs of the bay rising up to the side of us, the sun sinking behind the hills, a good end to the day.