The northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island is a popular fishing, sailing and tourist destination. It is also home to The Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand’s most historic sites.
Captain Cook sailed the HMS Endeavour into the Bay of Islands in 1769. Eventually a British Colony was established here, where Maori tribes had previously cleared the land.
The Bay of Islands contains more than 140 small islands and crags.
A Historic Treaty
Here, on February 6, 1840, The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between the Maori Chiefs and British Crown.
Today the Treaty Grounds are part of a 1000-acre Waitangi National Trust estate, which was gifted to New Zealand by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932.
The Waitangi Treaty grounds are about a three hour drive by car from Auckland. The Bay of Islands is also reached by cruise ship. We visited in late January via Holland America Line’s ms Volendam on a 14-Day New Zealand Discovery cruise.
A Hike along the Coast
The ship anchored in the Bay of Islands between Paihia and Russell, with the ships’ tenders delivering guests to the central Waitangi pier. From here, we walked to the Treaty Grounds, and followed a Coast Trail near the water for a spectacular view of the bay.
The Waitangi Treaty grounds have a resort hotel and a golf course, among other amenities. The Waitangi National Trust estate is also home to an 18-hole Golf Course, Waitangi Bowling Club and Bay of Islands Yacht Club.
After our coastal hike, we took a bus into the nearest town, Paihia (pronounced pie hee uh). Paihia was established in 1823 by Reverend Henry Williams. Today it is home to tourist shops, restaurants and hotels.
A Ferry Ride to Russell
Rum and women were top priority for visiting sailors, who had often spent months at sea. Fights, abduction, murder and no law enforcement made it a fearful place. It’s reputation strengthened by such names as “The devil’s playground” and “The Hell Hole of the Pacific”.
A Sense of Humor in Russell
One of Russell’s famous landmarks is the Christ Church, New Zealand’s oldest church. The tombstones in the cemetery convey some of the difficult history.
The Best Fish & Chips
After tendering, hiking and a ferry ride followed by a walk around Russell, we were hungry.
What we do know it that The Pub has fabulous fish and chips, served with a fresh salad and a large selection of New Zealand beers.
Having tested many fish & chips in a variety of British Empire outposts, Mr. Jones pronounced, “These are the best fish & chips I’ve ever eaten.”
You’ll have to check out the Pub “˜round the corner, and let us know what you think.
We enjoy discovering new places, especially those with friendly locals and good pubs.
What’s your favorite destination discovery? Please share in comments.