Sorry for the delay on this post. It was a full day with a couple of late night stargazing sessions and after gazing nightcaps with ever corruptible lecturer, Bill McKay,
It was early morning when we arrived in New Zealand and above the coal black mounds rising from the sea, the sunrise took our breath away, ablaze with yellows and orangess held up by calm seas. We stood on our deck and watched the sun rise as seabirds and the pods of dolphins guided our ship into the Bay Of Islands.
We had been in the Pacific for so long– taking in the salt air– that when we entered the Bay Of Islands it was as if New Zealand itself was saying, “Kia Ora” (welcome), greeting us with a floral gift carried on the light offshore breeze that permeated the space between sky and land, a scent so sweet and floral it made us anxious to get off ship and find its source.
One of the lecturers onboard, Bill McKay, is a native of New Zealand and offered,,, okay we begged him… to guide us on a walking tour of the Waitangi treaty grounds, which is perhaps New Zealnad’s most important historical site.
It was a short walk from the ship along the bay with Bill telling us about the history of the Maori and what took place at Waitangi treaty grounds between the Maori and British. The walk itself offered spectacular views.
A view of our ship from the treaty grounds
We toured the museum and walked thought the bush (Forrest as the Kiwis say),
then walked to the treaty house where the Maori and British signed the treaty, leaving the Maori with their land and resources, but placing them under the Queen (still having some conflict on this today)
We wound our way to an authentic Maori ceremonial house where we were presented with a cultural performance that was so enriching and beautiful we wanted to become Maori. The dance and singing was like nothing we had experienced, so pure you could feel the pull of ancestral souls.
Cultural presentation of Maori performers — I want the CD of their singing!
Below is a war canoe (Waka Taua) which can hold about 100 warriors. Impressive (6 tons dry, 12 tons wet)
A Waka Taua – war canoe
After the tour of the grounds, Bill suggested we catch a shuttle into town, then take a ferry across the bay to Russell. Along the way we picked up Father Patrick Moran
A ferry to Russell with Father Patrick Moran and Bill McKay!
First things first…. after a long walk some libations and lunch were a necessity, where Bill took us to a charming place along the waterfront called, The Duke Of Marlborough Hotel.
After lunch, we walked the waterfront of Russell among the shops, museums, and French Catholic Church grounds lush with flowers. This town is so reminiscent of what you would see in New England along the coast, but more charming because of the palms scattered here and there.
After a full day in The Bay Of Islands, it was time to return to our ship and watch the harbor master pick up their pilot who guided us into open water.
We never did identify what that scent in the air was. Meredith and I were sniffing every flower, every leaf on every tree like a couple of dogs on a walk. I asked the locals in the shops what might be giving off that scent but they just shrugged their shoulders and smiled, including Bill who did not seem to notice it– it must be in their blood (Kia Ora).
Onward to Auckland…..