Haruru Falls and Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Trip Start Mar 19, 2010
Trip End May 23, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, May 22, 2010

    I made the most of my final day here in the Bay of Islands! I got up at 6 intending to go out walking by 7:00, but reception didn't open until 8, so I had to wait around so I could store my luggage. So at 8 I headed out on this beautiful morning to walk to Haruru Falls. The lady at reception didn't know how long it would take, so I guessed about an hour and just hoped I would be back in time to catch the Magic Bus at 1:30!
    I took the road to get to the falls, being that I wanted to see the Waitangi Treaty Grounds afterward, but it wasn't a very pleasant walk. There were no sidewalks for most of it and the cars were loud as I was talking to my parents back home. It did take about an hour and 15 minutes to walk to the falls from the YHA. The falls were pretty nice, not very high but quite a large volume of water going over them.
    It was here I started taking the Haruru Falls Track toward the Treaty Grounds. It was a nice walk along the Waitangi River. I saw some gannets/terns(?) squawking up in a tree and probably the coolest thing I saw was the mangrove forest! I don't think I've ever seen mangroves before, but they're pretty interesting plants. They need to grow near salt water and have adapted to living in tidal areas by having special roots called pneumatophores which stick up out of the mud so the roots can get oxygen. This area, on a bridge over part of the river, was so quiet. All you could hear was the water, the birds, the wind, and the snapping shrimp! They live in the mud and make these snapping noises that you can hear throughout the mangroves.
    At the end of the trail (which did NOT take the listed 2.5 hours, more like 1.5) I arrived at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (at 11:00) and had about an hour to spend here before having to walk back to my hostel. The cost was pretty expensive...$25 and I didn't know if it was worth it for only an hour, but the lady said you could see everything in an hour. Looking back, it was interesting, but not worth the price. Basically it was just the site above the beach where the treaty was signed, the house of James Busby (who was the British Resident in NZ), a Maori war canoe and a marae. There was a lot of info in the house about its architecture and Busby and the treaty, some of it interesting, some of it not. It was interesting though how there wasn't much conflict between the Maori and Europeans at this time (the 1830s-1840s).
    After investigating the house, I went to have a look in the marae. The carvings inside were beautiful, each vertical 'pole' unique from all the tribes in NZ. There was a pamphlet that described all the carvings at the ticket desk but it cost an extra $3 and I didn't have enough time to analyze it anyway. 
    An hour went pretty fast and soon I had to make my way back. It was still a lovely sunny day and I enjoyed walking on the beach to get back listening to the waves and crunching of the shells under my sneakers. The walk took less time than I expected so I had time to get an ice cream and sit by the wharf. Back at the hostel I collected my bags and got back on the Magic Bus, only 4 of us this time! 
    The drive back was very boring. It was the same route we took to get up here, there was no commentary, and we only had one 20 minute stop at Whangarei Falls, which were nice, taller than Haruru but narrower. We arrived in Auckland about 5:30 so I didn't have much time to find a nice place to eat (my plan for my last night here). So I ended up going to the same Turkish kebab place as my first night here :)
    Back at my hostel I commenced reorganizing my things to pack them up as neatly as possible, and making sure everything fit! A girl from Japan was in my room and she had just arrived a few days ago so I was telling her all the cool things I've done/seen, and I left her my extra pantry items, like my eggs, oil, and saran wrap.
    And that was it, my final night in New Zealand :( I really don't want to leave! It just feels like home here. 

Lyrics of the Day:

"I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm alright
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone..." - Billy Joel

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