At the suggestion of our group leader, I purchased a one-year membership to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which not only supports New Zealand’s efforts to protect their historic buildings, but also affords free entry to many trust properties located throughout New Zealand as well as Australia, England, and even a few Historic sites in the USA. For more information, visit their website.
I first used my membership in Russell, touring the Pompallier Mission which purports to be the oldest surviving industrial building in New Zealand.
Our first full day in New Zealand was February 6th, which happens to be a national holiday: Waitangi Day. It was on this date, in 1840, that the Maori people signed the Treaty of Waitangi, ostensibly making New Zealand part of the British empire, affording its people the same rights as other British subjects while guaranteeing Maori rights to their own land.
Although similarities have been drawn to treaties signed between the Native Americans and those who claimed their land, the politics of Waitangi Day are not the subject of this blog. (However, we did visit the Treaty House on the 7th — after the crowds thinned — and found it fascinating and mostly accessible. And that will be a future post.)
“New Zealand is a very accessible country,” I had been told prior to my recent month-long trip there. And with very few exceptions I found this to be true. For the next few weeks I will be sharing my experiences in this beautiful land, and when one of the “few exceptions” comes up, I’ll point it out .
The Big Travel Day had finally arrived: Sunday, February 3, 2013
I had prepared for months, researching travel guides and library books, checking Tripadvisor and taking lots of notes.