“There is only one word for New Zealand – EPIC” – Bear Grylls
Kia ora! I have an overwhelming sense of pride and feel very privileged to be writing this blog post about my beautiful homeland of New Zealand (NZ) – also known by its Maori name of Aotearoa which commonly translates to the “Land of the long white cloud”.
As New Zealanders’ we will also commonly refer to ourselves as “Kiwi’s”.
New Zealand comprises of two main Islands – the North Island (known in Maori as Te Ika a Maui – The fish of Maui) and the South Island (also known in Maori as Te Wai Pounamu – The Waters of Greenstone).
We are a nation steeped in rich Maori history and culture, and have become a very diverse and multicultural society with a current population of approximately 4,500,000 people. What we lack in land mass we more than make up for in passion, enthusiasm and national pride!
Our raw, natural beauty is just one of the quintessential attractions that keeps bringing tourists and travel seekers alike to our beautiful shores, with the scenery unlike anything else that you have seen or experienced in the world.
The following are a few thoughts of mine and what I personally love about New Zealand:
- We are a “rugby” mad country (NZ is currently the reigning Rugby World Cup Champions)
- The native flightless “Kiwi” bird (and also the national symbol of New Zealand)
- The green, green grass of home and Baaa – Sheep in the paddocks
- Award winning and delicious NZ wines and cheeses (complemented by our fresh and supremely tasty seafood)
- Hangi (Traditional Maori way of cooking food in the ground)
- Our beautiful “Paua shell and Greenstone” jewellery (Greenstone is also known as Pounamu which in Maori custom is always given as a gift (treasure or Taonga) and never bought for oneself)
- Is home to “Te Papa” our National Museum (based in the capital city of Wellington)
- Kapa Haka – Traditional Maori performing arts that encompasses an emotional and powerful combination of song, dance and chanting
- The Pohutukawa tree (also known as the “NZ Christmas tree” because when they flower it is usually a sign that summer is here and the festive season is just around the corner)
- The laidback, friendly and caring nature of Kiwi’s
My absolute favourite place to holiday in NZ, is a quaint little township called Paihia located in the beautiful Bay of Islands in Northland (about a 3-4 hour drive north of Auckland city).
It is my special “home away from home” a place of calling and where I am able to rejuvenate my mind, body and soul; sink my feet into the sand and reconnect with the land.
A place to take leisurely walks on the beach, eat delicious seafood fresh off the boat or jump on the little ferry boat for a short trip across to Russell Island.
Paihia is a pretty little picturesque town located in my hometown region of Northland. In the summer it is a rocking place to be, packed with tourists and a nice escape for city dwellers. It is also a peaceful retreat and a rejuvenating place to getaway to in the winter.
Paihia is also near to “The Waitangi National Trust Estate – New Zealand’s most historic site as the Birthplace of our Nation” and where the “Te Tiriti O Waitangi” (The Treaty of Waitangi) was signed on 6 February 1840 with Waitangi Day commemorations still held to this day.
The World’s largest Ceremonial War Canoe (or Waka) called “Ngatokimatawhaorua” also resides at Waitangi, so a must see visit!
I remember with fondness, my youthful days of travelling to the big city lights of “Auckland” on the bus from my little hometown and we would always stop off at Paihia to have a comfort break and collect new passengers. Well, that was my cue to savour a warmly baked scone, piled high with a mountain of fresh cream and strawberry jam along with a nicely brewed cup of tea – Yum!
I truly love Paihia, it is a gem of a place and features well in attracting tourists to the area, which like many other small country towns dotted throughout NZ is great news for the local businesses, the economy and the community.
There is a little wharf in the central area of the township, where you can relax, dine or buy delicious “Kaimoana” (seafood) fresh off the boat and also take the ferry across to Russell Island (previously known by its Maori name of Kororareka which was the first permanent European settlement and sea port in New Zealand).
My hubby and I stayed at a nice little hotel with lovely sea views at the Anchorage Motel which is a stone’s throw away from the township and right next door to a fabulous restaurant that overlooks the beach. Check it out!
The following are my top 5 tips for a visit to Paihia in the Bay of Islands:
#1 Visit the sacred Waitangi Treaty grounds
#2 Grab a ferry ride to Russell Island
#3 Swim with the beautiful Dolphins
#4 Seize the moment with a ‘Hole in the Rock’ Cruise
#5 Fly high with a Scenic Helicopter Tour
Next time you are in New Zealand, make sure to schedule a short or extended holiday to Northland and enjoy all of the delights that the Bay of Islands has to offer.
For all things New Zealand or “Kiwiana” I would also encourage you to visit the following website:
“No reira e nga iwi, Nga Hau e Wha, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa” (Maori language)
“To all of you gathered here, the meeting of the four winds, greetings, greetings, greetings to you all”