Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand
Polynesian explorers have been coming to New Zealand for many centuries. At Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can hear the many stories of Kupe, who went out in a canoe looking for the giant octopus. Instead Kupe discovers the "Land of the Long White Cloud", which his wife named Aotearoa. Today many Maori tribes claim to be connected to Kupe. Over the years many legends, stories, songs and dances have been created, and passed down from generation to generation.
Many years later, the mountains of New Zealand also attracted the original English and French sailers. Initially it was to trade with the native Maori tribes. In 1840 a treaty was signed between the Maori and the British to trade control of the country by Great Britain. In exchange the Maori People were given protection.
Later in 1932 the area surrounding Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Waitangi Treaty House, was given back to the Maori as an area of historical and political significance. Each year on 6th February, Waitangi Day is commemorated. Waitangi Day celebrates the unique alliance between the Maori People and European peoples. There many activities and attractions planned for Waitangi Day including spectacular, traditional, giant, carved wakas (war canoes), which travel along the coast from Waitangi to Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
Whilst in the Bay of Islands, everyone should spend some time visiting the Waitangi Treaty House, see the intricately carved Maori Meeting House, and wander in the grounds. To learn more about the history of Waitangi you should take a Maori guided Embrace Waitangi Tour, which takes about an hour. Whilst at Waitangi, check out Waikokopu Café for lunch, located near the Treaty House, it is a great spot to relax.
Around Waitangi there are some excellent short walks. You could follow a board walk through the mangroves and tree ferns to Haruru Falls. Here the freshwater fish often get washed over the falls, and end up in the salty water at the foot of the falls. Look out for the Black Shags diving here to catch a meal, the clear water often provides perfect conditions for this.