5th of September 2011
A Walk in the Sun
Today we have a free day from the tour. Due to the Magic Bus pick up schedule we can only be picked up on Tuesday. But that was fine with me as it gave a chill out day to explore this stunning town and take a walk in the sun to the Treaty Grounds.
The girls, all skilled in bike riding, decided to borrow hostel bikes and head to the Haruru falls.
Me, being slightly less adept at the art of bicycles, opted to take a walk and use the free entry I had to learn about some important New Zealand history, the Waittangi Treaty.
It was about a 2km walk from the hostel to the treaty grounds and all I had were my boots, and they were not hiking boots. But luckily they are wearable and only need new insole now and then. It felt great to walk along the waterfront, listening to music and contemplating…nothing.
When I got to the Treaty Grounds I learnt that it was the Official Welcome for the Canadian Rugby Team. Bonus! But before they arrived I wandered around the treaty grounds and took in the beautiful forested areas. The Treaty was signed on 6th of February 1840 by the British Crown and various Maori Chiefs from the north island of New Zealand.It established a British Governor of New Zealand and recognised Maori ownership of land and gave them rights as British subjects. The treaty was written in both English and Maori… besides the fact that the Maori had no written language at the time, it was quite a remarkable event.
The Treaty Grounds are set amongst beautiful native bush and right near the water. The ceremonial waka (canoe) is open to the public to walk around and see the stunning workmanship. It was made out of 2 giant kauri trees.
The area is home to numerous species of native birds and as it was spring, I came across a number of young ones.
After exploring I headed over to the museum area where the Canadian Team would be welcomed. In traditional Maori fashion as the team walked up, there were numerous challenges by young men from different tribes. They would run up screaming, do an intimidating haka type dance and then lay some leaves on the ground. The team captain had to pick up the leaves and continue walking until confronted by another warrior. At the end the had to present the leaves to the chief and then were allowed entry. It was all very impressive and the young warriors did a fantastic job.
After enjoying the cultural experience and listening to speeches I noticed the weather becoming a bit threatening so I decided to head out. On the way I stopped for a coffee and cake, just as the girls were cycling past, so they joined me. As we sat down it started to rain, good timing. But luckily it was a short storm and it had stopped by the time we headed out. Back at the hostel we made a great dinner and relaxed for the evening. Tomorrow we head back to Auckland with a few interesting stops along the way with the Magic Bus.