Frustrated in Paradise  

As I write this, I am looking out of the window of a very comfortable cabin over the small village of Paihia towards the beautiful Bay of Islands. Idyllic? - yes, but it is also raining, as it has been for the past two days and the frustration of not being able to put together two straight days of fine weather since our arrival 3 weeks ago is starting to tell.

Since leaving Ruapehu, we spent a day of gale-force wind and sleeting rain in Auckland, where we stopped off at the Australian consulate to vote (so don't blame us!) before heading off in the rain up the long "finger" of the North Island. Rain has fallen on 17 days out of 21, which probably entitles us to this brief whinge, but that is enough. The Bay of Islands is a beautiful place, very quiet at the moment, and although it looks like it would be very busy in summer, it has retained its charm. The villages of the Bay have escaped the overdevelopment that is a scourge of many coastal resorts.

Below are are few images taken when the rain gave us a break.

View from the deck of our cabin over the Bay of Islands

We did have the one fine day here which enabled us to do a few short walks around the area. Waitangi, in particular, has great historical significance, as it was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, ceding sovereignty to the English crown in exchange for protection and a guarantee of land rights to the Maori. It is considerd to be an agreement between two peoples to live and work together as one nation, but the interpretation of this Treaty is still an ongoing debate today, judging from current affairs programs on the local radio.

Looking south over the Bay of Islands from Waitangi (Paihia on the right)

Waitangi Treaty House (built in the 1833)

Prow of a Maori war canoe (waka)

Te Whare Ranunga (built in 1940 as a national marae or meeting house)

Overlooking Waitangi inlet
and its mangroves
There are many short day or half-day walks in this area. We managed to do one along an inlet of the bay passing through a forest full of tuis, with their curious rasping call, and other birds, crossing an interesting mangrove forest for lunch alongside the Haruru Falls. I was surprised to meet up with a few other ex-pats that I did not know lived here - eastern rosellas.

Boardwalk through the mangrove forest

Haruru Falls

We also caught a ferry across the bay to picturesque and sleepy Russell, once known as the hell-hole of the Pacific, when whalers and sealers used it as a base - now you are more likely to see a cafe latte than a bottle of rum. Russell has certainly retained its colonial character with its many beautiful period weatherboard buildings.

Old Police Station in Russell

The simple charm of Russell

Nice view while enjoying a "handle" of beer on the deck of the old Marlborough Arms pub (first licenced pub in NZ)