Today New Zealanders will mark the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - when, in 1840, representatives of Britain and 500 Maori Chiefs signed what is now recognised as their country's founding document. The treaty was formally agreed upon in a house owned by a Scotsman named James Busby in Waitangi on the Bay of Islands, around 230 kilometres north of Auckland.
Given the central focus of the Bay of Islands to New Zealand's development as a nation, here at Flight Centre, we thought we'd spotlight activities to do around this beautiful part of the country.
Busby's house, which is now known as Treaty House, was donated to the nation in 1932 by the Governor General Viscount Bledisloe. Travellers are welcome to explore the residence that contains a fascinating museum and also to wander around the landscaped gardens. At sunrise on February 6 each year, flags are raised on the grounds of Treaty House and during the day there are cultural presentations.
Treaty of Waitangi Night Show
Performed in the gardens of Treaty House, this live production incorporates Maori and European cultures to present the story of Kupe the first Maori Chief. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the show alone or to experience a dinner and show package.
After immersing yourself in the cultural heritage of the region, consider taking some time to admire the spectacular natural scenery by signing up for a sailing expedition. There are 144 islands in the Bay and to sail around them is a magical experience. Adventurers are welcome to help trim the sails or even take to the helm if they wish.
Adrenaline-seekers will want to skydive over this incredible region. The plane takes around 20 minutes to reach the perfect altitude to allow enthusiasts to experience the exhilaration of free-falling for around 45 seconds before the instructor activates the parachute.
For the ultimate in relaxation, take a dedicated fishing charter from Paihia, Russell or Opua onto the Bay to catch snapper, kingfish and marlin. Local operators offer a range of fishing techniques including salt fly mechanical jigging, soft bait fishing and free diving. This is the perfect way to appreciate the beauty of the Bay and bring home dinner straight from the ocean.