We found a really lovely campground in Paihia on The Bay of Islands. It was located alongside the Waitangi River and we found a site alongside the river in an isolated part of the park. It was tranquil and pleasant. We ventured out on our first day to see Paihia, the main town on the famed Bay Of Islands. The day was cloudy and rainy and so our plans to kayak were scuttled by high winds as well as rain showers. Instead we visited Waitangi, a national park devoted to marking the signing of the treaty between the Maori and The British that established the country in 1840. It was interesting as a guide walked us throuh the grounds and explained the history. Of particular note was the war canoe, a huge creation which weighs 6 tons and is made from three huge kauri trees. It is taken out annually, manned by 120 men to mark the anniversary of the treaty signing on Feb 6. It has intricate carvings and is of a brilliant design with large projecting fins at bow and stern designed to stabilize the boat and with the hull especially treated to pevent the build up of bubbles which could slow it down. It is housed in a building with other carvings around symbolizing Maori dieties.
We also took a quick trip to Russell, which is reached by ferry from Paihia. This is an even older town once used by sailors and whalers. It is a picturesque town with wooden buildings lining the strand.
We hiked over the brow and found a beach. Paul was most pleased to find a mobile coffee kiosk which satisfied his need for a good cup of coffee. We could see just a few of the islands in The Bay Of Islands from Long Beach.
We hiked back to the ferry and after a quick stop at Haruru Falls, retired for the evening to our site beside the river.