(Originally published November 8th, 2009)
They say that New Zealanders (they are actually called Kiwis) are bad drivers (not nearly as bad, in my opinion, as Spokane drivers). I haven’t experienced this side of Kiwis’ yet besides a wide range of vehicles that tailgate me every once inawhile. I figure though that this is due to my…well…trying to get my head wrapped around the opposite side of the road. There cannot be any instinct, I have to have purposeful thought as I drive.
We are still in Paihia and plan on leaving tomorrow. We saw another waterfall this morning that was a horseshoe shaped one. We also walked through a rather old forest that is protected by the government. This was a very peaceful experience. We were the only ones on the path except for the birds and natural sounds of the environment which was enchanting in its own right. Some of these trees were massive. Maybe not massive like California Redwood massive but perhaps the next level down.
Then we walked around the area where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. This was between the British and the Maori tribes who are the natives of New Zealand. The Maori were the natives for thousands of years (anthropologists debate about when they first got here) until the British rolled into town. As always, the natives got screwed by the colonizers and historians recount that the Maori tribes probably didn’t even understand what they were signing when the treaty was presented. As a result (and because reportedly the British didn’t even hold up their end of the treaty), the Maori today (which number about 16% of the population of New Zealand) get millions in subsidiaries from the government.
The highlight of the day was the boat tour that we went on. We went out into the Bay of Islands (which was given that name by explorer Captain Cook). I saw the exact site where Captain Cook first landed down here and subsequently got into a conflict with the Maori who welcomed the British explorers with a war dance. Captain Cook eventually started trading with the Maori and things calmed down. He charted and mapped out the islands in extraordinary detail. He counted 144 of them as it leads out to the Pacific Ocean. I saw some gorgeous scenery if I say so myself.
We also passed by a town of Russell which is across the bay from us at Paihia. This looks like a quaint, sleepy town but our tour guide let us know that in the 1800s, the town was rather infamous for the bars and prostitution. The whaling and sea industry were huge and sailors would come into port at Russell to relax…and go crazy. One quote about this town from the 1800s was that it was the “hellhole of the south Pacific.” Having just been there, that certainly is hard to believe. How things change and all…
Coming out of Russell (and this adds to the highlight), we saw a school of bottlenose dolphins. They were swimming right up to our boat and jumping out of the water. I have never seen a dolphin in the wild before. I wanted to swim with them but the tour guide was a killjoy and informed us that the dolphins were feeding and had their young with them. We also saw a New Zealand fur seal chilling on some rocks along the tour.
All in all, two days in, this trip has been great so far. I’m fascinated by the history of another place and of course, in awe of the beauty. The world that God has fashioned is remarkedly diverse and pretty. Although, I have been learning about many injustices done in history while down here thus far, it certainly is important to remind myself that no sin is beyond redemption in the eyes of God, no matter how wicked or how horrible.
Tomorrow, we drive back to Auckland to explore. I still have a sense of excitement and a random thought of trancendentalist Henry David Thoreau. “Suck the marrow out of life”. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to New Zealand so I want to suck the marrow out of my experiences here.