Posted by: Ross Gardner | April 30, 2018

And so to New Zealand

Waitangi Treaty Grounds (scaled)

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Back on the trail of ‘The Big Trip’ and from the tropical climes of Borneo to the rather less balmy, but nevertheless very pleasant ones of New Zealand and an antipodean summer.

Landing in Auckland our way over the coming weeks would be mostly south, but not before a drive in the opposite direction into Northland.  From our base in Kawakawa we could not only check out one the most extravagantly decorated public lavatories that this blogger has ever been in, but also the Bay of Islands and one of, if not the most significant sites of New Zealand culture and history.

The Waitaingi Treaty Grounds is the place where many say that modern New Zealand was born.  The treaty was signed in 1860 by the British Crown and the Maori people, mutually desired and intended to establish British governorship over the islands (and therefore protection against the French forces) and to afford the Maori rights as British subjects while recognising their historic rights over the land.  It wasn’t exactly plain sailing thereafter, but is nonetheless recognised as a hugely significant moment in the nation’s history.

Cultural Performance 4 (scaled)

The Cultural Performance at Waitangi

The site of this momentous occasion is also rather handily placed besides the very attractive and popular Bay of Islands.  This bay, complete with its 144 islands, is indeed most appropriately named. It is a splendid place for kayaking and exploring some of the islands and yet despite its popularity as a tourist destination the Bay is also home to some interesting wildlife.  Birds the endemic New Zealand Dotterel which nest along some of the beaches along with the decidely handsomely black Variable Oystercatcher (‘variable’ because some birds may be pied).

Tore Tore Island (Bay of Islands) 5 (scaled)

Tore Tore Island – one of the many in the Bay of Islands.

New Zealand Dotterel (scaled)

New Zealand Dotterel – one of the country’s many unique birds.

Variable Oystercatcher 4 (scaled)

Variable Oystercatcher – another endemic species.

And as for those toilets mentioned at the beginning, if you happen to find yourself in Kawakawa be sure to check out the public convenience whose interiors were designed by none other than the renowned Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.  The official website describes him as “a visionary and responsible creator, mobilizes the power of his art in order to spread his message for a life in harmony with nature and the individual creativity.”  I’m not at present exactly sure how this fits in with the extraordinary loos in Kawakawa, but you’re not likely see any others quite like them.

Hundertwasser toilet (scaled)

The Hundertwasser designed toilet interior at Kawakawa.



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