Clearly we were happy to be back!
After more than 10 years we returned to NZ. I planned the trip with our sons Matt and Ryan as a family hiking trip to hike the Milford Track. We haven’t had a family vacation since the “boys” graduated from college, except the rare coincidental visit on Amante. Their schedules dictate separate visits, so this was a treat. We decided to arrive early and visit the Bay of Islands.
Our fist stop was to visit Pahia, Bay of Islands. What a day! We started with a 5 mile run to Waitangi then on to the Haturu Falls track. This is a deep woods track adjacent to a golf course that is still a Kiwi habitat. We saw none. We didn’t make it all the way to the falls, but the Park and Tretay signing Visitors Center was in full swing at 7 am when we ran through. Feb 6 is Waitangi Day, the celebration of the signing of the treaty between European settlers and the Maori, who now claim the chiefs didn’t understand what they were signing. It is an odd day to celebrate, since the Maori effectively gave their land away very likely without fully understanding the exchange of their land for “peace”, but the celebration was a full day of Maori cultural displays, the haka (?) the fight dance with tongues out and chants, 5 fighter jet show, the giant war canoe, and I don’t really know what all since I was on a boat watching bits and pieces in drive bus from the water.
Our real activity today was the cream run, a boat cruise around the Bay of Islands, in a reproduction tour of the delivery boats that took supplies (cream) to the people living on remote islands. It was sunny and fabulous. We took the Fullers Greatsights Bay of Islands cruise at the recommendation of fellow sailors who run a sailing website. Of course, locals would know the best water tour. It was fantastic. The “Cream Trip” recreates a supply route taken by delivery boats in the years past who took food, supplies, (cream?), to the inhabitants of some of the many Islands’ few inhabitants. We had a lady captain, Tami, who not only could dock with millimeter accuracy in her sleep, she narrated the tour with fascinating information in the beautiful, friendliness-packed accent we love about the New Zealand folk. She knew where to find a pod of dolphin so that those who chose to could swim with the dolphin. I didn’t ask how, I preferred to think it Magic. She may have a ring that makes her disappear. We went out to the hole in the rock, and I think I saw a gangly ill-mannered fellow beating a fish to death before eating him whole. Not really, but the whole trip was a win, and I am in The Lord of the Rings MOOD!