Between 1999 and 2009 I spent a lot of time working and travelling in New Zealand. A country of friendly people; and spectacular mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, forests and beaches.
On one such trip I decided to take a weekend trip from Auckland (the largest city in New Zealand) up to the Northland area of the North Island and drive from one side of the country to the other (in this case I went from the East coast to the West coast)! Luckily that is not that hard in some parts of New Zealand where the distance is only about 1.5 hours drive.
The view from my hotel in Auckland:
Waitangi is 3 hours north of Auckland on the East coast and played a famous part in the history of New Zealand.
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is where the British and the North Island Maori Chiefs signed a treaty to join the British Empire in 1840. The treaty established a British Governor in New Zealand, recognised Maori ownership of their lands and gave them the rights of British subjects. The Maori wanted the protection of the British to bring peace to the island. Leading up to this treaty there had been hundreds of vicious battles between Maori tribes since 1807 which devastated the Maori population. During this period musket rifles had been introduced into the fighting from western suppliers and the fighting only became more deadly and brutal (including burning of villages, torture, slavery and even cannibalism of the dead)! These battles became known as the Musket Wars. In addition there were also battles with French explorers who planned to claim New Zealand as a French territory so the Maori wanted British protection from this expansion also.
The British didn’t quite abide by the treaty though which lead to the New Zealand Wars (Maori Wars) between 1845 and 1872 mainly over the sale of Maori lands to settlers (the treaty was meant to only allow sale of land by the Maori to the Government). This lead to fighting between rebel Maoris and Government forces, Settlers and Maoris loyal to the Government. The Maoris previous experience with muskets was to help them in offensive and defensive action during these wars but eventually the might of the British forces were to overcome the Maori. The end result was that large tracts of Maori land were confiscated by the government as punishment for rebellion. A lot of land was eventually redistributed back to Maori tribes but not necessarily to the original owners, so you can imagine the issues this raised. Like many countries with native populations, many a court battle has been fought since for return of land to rightful owners!
Whilst there I did some hiking on the Waitangi Track to the Haruru Falls…..
The drive to the West coast of New Zealand lead me to Omapere…massive sand dunes and spectacular beaches!
Waipoua Forest…home of the ancient Tane Mahuta (“Lord of the Forest“) a giant Kauri tree that is possibly 2,500 years old!
Waipu Cove….another spectacular beach!
And of course what trip of mine would be complete without a visit to an aviation museum: MOTAT (Museum Of Technology And Transport) in Auckland has two distinct sections: One an excellent collection of very well restored historic aircraft that were flown in New Zealand including fighter planes, bombers (including a WW2 Avro Lancaster) and flying boats (a new display hall has been built since my visit) the other displays numerous methods of transport such as cars, trains, trucks etc.
How did NZ’s Sir Edmund Hillary (adventurer and mountaineer – first person along with his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to climb Mt. Everest in 1953) get to the South Pole when he was exploring there in 1958? By Massey Ferguson tractor of course (amazing but true)!
And how did I get from one section of the museum to the other? By a historic tram from Melbourne of course (my then home city in Australia)!