New Zealand the other land down under (2009)

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:

Sky City Tower Auckland New Zealand
Sky City Tower

Waitangi Treaty

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.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds New Zealand
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Maori Canoe New Zealand
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Bay of Islands New Zealand
View from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (Bay of Islands)

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!

Maori Wars New Zealand

Maori Wars New Zealand

Whilst there I did some hiking on the Waitangi Track to the Haruru Falls…..

Waitangi Track New Zealand
Waitangi Track
Waitangi Track boardwalk New Zealand
Waitangi Track boardwalk
Waitangi Track New Zealand Bay of Islands
Waitangi Track
Haruru Falls New Zealand
Haruru Falls

The drive to the West coast of New Zealand lead me to Omapere…massive sand dunes and spectacular beaches!

Omapere New Zealand sand dunes

Omapere New Zealand

Omapere New Zealand Black Sand Beach

Waipoua Forest…home of the ancient Tane Mahuta (“Lord of the Forest“)  a giant Kauri tree that is possibly 2,500 years old!

Tane Mahuta Lord of the Forest Kauri tree New Zealand
“Lord of the Forest”

Waipu Cove….another spectacular beach!

Waipu Cove Beach New Zealand
Waipu Cove 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.

MOTAT Aviation Hall Auckland New Zealand Hurricane Vampire Kittyhawk Lancaster Swordfish Wasp
MOTAT Aviation Hall
Solent Flying Boat MOTAT Auckland New Zealand
MOTAT: 1950’s era Solent Flying Boat luxury all the way!

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)!

Sir Edmund Hillary Antarctic
Sir Edmund Hillary

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)!

MOTAT Auckland NZ Melbourne Tram
Old Melbourne Tram

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