Today was the start of our journey into The Northlands, what they call the area at the tip of the north island past Auckland. We were going to be spending the next few nights almost at the top in small seaside village called Cable Bay.
We started the day by walking to the small corner grocery and picking up a pre-made smoothie to share while we walked to our car rental pickup. The pickup took much longer than usual, close to twenty minutes. They walked us through all the insurance options, and we declined all the insurance options. Then the lady called the credit card company to pre-authorize the bond on the card, which neither of us had ever seen before. Then we were given a manual of driving rules in New Zealand that we had to look through and then sign a document about how often we drive, have we ever driven on the left, etc. Lastly, we all took a walk out to our car, a brand new (12 km on it) Toyota Corolla hatchback that we have affectionately named Babs. Finally released to go, we climbed in and headed back to pack up our things and hit the road.
The drive to Cable bay was 5 hours and we decided to break it up with a stop at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the native Maori and the British had agreed to jointly rule the country in 1840. Lynn took the first shift driving while I promptly fell asleep. Oops.
Around 12.30 we pulled into the largest town in these parts, Whangarei, and had lunch at nice looking café. Lynn, excited about being on the coast, ordered seafood chowder while I had a BBQ chicken salad. Both were good, though Lynn definitely won.
We still had an hour and seven minutes to drive and saw that the next tour of the treaty grounds started in one hour and three minutes so we quickly paid and drove off towards our next stop. We arrived a few minutes late, but they let us catch up so we didn’t have to kill an hour till the last tour of the day at 4:00 pm. The guide led a group of 10 of us around the grounds, discussing the history of the Maori people and British colonization as well as some pretty good jokes and even some personal thoughts on current New Zealand politics. It sounded like the Maori made out a lot better than almost any other indigenous population we can think of, which isn’t to say great but certainly much better than their Aboriginal friends across the Tasman Sea who were hunted for sport.
After the 50 minute tour we wandered the grounds ourselves, peeking into the Maori meeting hall, the home of James Busby (who had been the British representative in New Zealand during the treaty signing) and concluded with some handstands overlooking the Bay of Islands below. Lynn won again, but by looking at the pictures she was able to give me some pointers so I won’t be so bad next time. Along the coast below were sleepy seaside villages, which had once been the capital of New Zealand before moving to Auckland and then again to Wellington. On the way out we exited through the gift shop where there were some very nice, albeit expensive, handmade jewelry and wood carvings, but sadly too rich for our blood, even with the strong US Dollar.
Having seen all there was to see we drove the hour up to our Airbnb and admired the views of the green sheep covered hills as we went. We arrived in Cable Bay, found our Airbnb and unpacked the car. Lynn was feeling sleepy at this point since she hadn’t been able to nap while driving (wise decision) so she stayed home and napped while I ran to the grocery for dinner supplies.
Unsurprisingly, the grocery store in the tiny village of Cable Bay was not very well stocked, so after a failed attempt there I drove the 30 minutes the nearest large town where they had a Pak ‘n’ Sav which I soon determined was basically a New Zealand Costco. I rounded up our groceries for the next few days and paid only to find that they don’t offer bags here. You either bring your own or do without, so I wheeled the cart out to the car and loaded it all up. Once home Lynn helped make quick work of unloading and I thought this wasn’t that bad, maybe we never need grocery bags again.
A dinner of meatloaf, roasted broccoli, and mashed cauliflower was prepared, eaten, and cleaned up after before we called it a night.
Daily Walking Miles : A pitiful 3.8 miles
- New Zealand is the only country in the world with two registered flags. The one everyone knows with the Southern Cross, and a flag granted by the King of England in 1835 to represent the Maori chiefs.
- Speaking of flags, there is currently a vote to change New Zealand’s national flag (the Southern Cross one) to something less British looking. Our guide as well as some New Zealanders on our tour were not excited about it since so many young men had died fighting for the current flag and felt it should be maintained to honor their memory.
- The Maori meeting house at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds has carvings from all seven Maori tribes to equally represent them. Traditionally a meeting house is done only in the style of the local tribe.