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Exploring the Northland

Tuesday 29th September 2015

sunny 17 °C

Having had a pretty busy day yesterday we wanted to have a slightly more relaxing time today, and as if to prove the point Helen came over to service our room at about 10ish to find us just finishing our breakfast. We said that we were happy to forgo having our room serviced (who needs or wants clean towels every day anyway) and in the end we left to go out just after 11am. Our plan was to make the short drive down to the car ferry at Opua which goes across the bay to the town of Russell and the peninsula of the same name. When we arrived at the ferry we found it had just departed but as they run every ten minutes we didn't have long to wait for the next one.

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The journey only lasted about five minutes or so and then Nigel drove north west towards the town and out the other side.

Helen had told us about a lookout on Flagstaff Hill that had great views of the Bay of Islands and across to Paihia. Initially we missed the turning and ended up by Takepe Beach. It was a lovely little spot and it was really nice to see lots of children playing happily on the beach and in the water, with very little adult interference.

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From there we retraced our steps and went back up Flagstaff Hill and found the lookout. This was a significant site in the history of relationships between the indigenous people and the early white settlers. Despite a treaty being signed between the British and a number of Maori leaders in 1840, the former caused offence to a number of Maori chiefs so in retribution they cut down the flagstaff which perhaps somewhat provocatively was flying a British flag. This act was repeated several times until the Maori were threatened that if they did so again it would be seen as an act of war. So began what has been referred to as The Flagstaff War which lasted from March 1845 to January 1846. Who the victor was has been disputed, but either way the British didn't raise the flag again. As well as the site being historically significant there were indeed great views from the top of the hill and so we spent a while up there, looking across the bay and taking photographs.

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By this time it was gone midday and we decided to stop in the town of Russell and had a lunch of open sandwiches and iced coffee. Both were delicious and set us up for the rest of the afternoon.

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From the town we drove back towards the car ferry and then continued east passing some lovely tidal creeks and then a number of places overlooking the Bay of Islands.

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After driving inland for a short distance we reached the Pacific Coast. We parked up and walked across the road to the private Elliot Beach. This was a lovely spot with a stream, which we had to cross a couple of times, flowing onto the sands. We spent ages exploring before returning to the car and continuing on the coast road with a great view back to the beach we had just been walking on.

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We also stopped at another deserted beach called Helena Bay which had just a few houses and an ancient looking tree.

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before driving up to the top of the headland, where we stopped at a cafe and art gallery.

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We had some coffee and cake and then we spent a while looking at the eclectic mix of art, much of which was very nice but also very expensive. From there it was about 40 miles back to Paihia. Before going back to our accommodation we went to the supermarket in order to buy some more supplies including some steak and salad for dinner. The day hadn't been as exciting and dramatic as yesterday, but it had been very enjoyable nevertheless.

Posted by Gill's Travels 22:51 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches ocean new_zealand paihia russell

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