Taupo and Waitangi Treaty Grounds - Jessi Wenke
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Located on the North Island overlooking the Bay of Islands is the Waitangi National Trust and Treaty Grounds, where on February 6, 1840 the several Maori chiefs and British Representatives met and signed the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi), which established British sovereignty over New Zealand. A British governor was appointed and given rule over the land and the rights and privileges of British citizens were extended to the Maori peoples.
The introduction of muskets to the Maori in the early part of the 19th century resulted in warring among the tribes. Not all of the different tribes had acquired firearms and the results were devastating. An estimated 20,000 Maori lost their lives in what would become known as the Musket Wars. Concerned over the warring between various groups of Maori and newcomers, particularly French, to the land, members of several northern tribes sent a letter to King William IV asking for protection of their lands. In 1835, James Busby, a British representative, and 35 chiefs of northern tribes signed the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand. The first of several documents that eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February of 1840.
Realizing the historic significance of the site as the "Birthplace of New Zealand", in 1932, Lord Bledisloe, Governor-General of New Zealand and his wife, Lady Bledisloe, purchased the estate, that includes the house and site where the Treaty was signed, and gifted the property in trust to the people of the country.
In addition to the to the treaty house and gardens, the estate is home to other "taonga" (treasures) such as the Te Whare Runanga; a carved Maori meeting house dedicated on the centennial celebration of the treaty's signing and Ngatokimatawhaorua; one of the world's largest Maori carved ceremonial war canoes, not to mention the natural beauty of the estate grounds and breathtaking views of the Bay of Islands.
Centrally located on the North Island and sitting at the northeastern outlet of New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupō where it discharges into the Waikato River is the town of Taupō.
Maori Polynesians are recognized to have settled the Taupō area as early as 700 years ago. In the early 1700's the Tuwharetoa tribe displaced earlier tribes of which little is known. Taupo is now the North Islands most recently developed urban centre.
Taupō is located in the geologic region known as the Volcanic Plateau. Dominated by three calderas; Taupō, Rotorua, and Okataina, the Taupō Volcanic Zone is the eruptive region of the plateau. Lake Taupō, the flooded caldera, is the largest in the region and was created by a massive eruption approximately 26,000 years ago. The eruption was the most recent to reach VEI-8, the highest level on the Volcanic Exposivity Index. The Taupō Volcanic Zone extends from Whakatane Volcano at its northeastern border to Ruapehu Volcano at its southwest; an area roughly 350 km by 50 km and marks the southwestern border of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Visitors to the area can enjoy various natural attractions such as Huka Falls, Taupō's most visited site, situated north of the town on the Waikato River. The Craters of the Moon is a popular geothermal area, and in the Wairakei Tourist Park is the Volcanic Activity Center that offers interactive exhibits and information of the Taupō Volcanic Zone. Others not to miss attraction include Aratiatia Dam, the picturesque lakeside village of Kinloch, the 5 mile lakeside Lions Walk, Mount Tauhara and Waipahihi Botanical Reserve.
There is no shortage of activity in Taupō. Adventure enthusiasts can find Taupō Bungy located in the Hells Gate section of the town center. Three skydiving companies operate out of the Taupō Airport; Skydive Taupō, Taupō Tandem and Freefall Skydive, catering to all levels, from beginner to advanced. Scenic flights can be booked by plane or helicopter at numerous locations. There are also several locations that offer jetboating, sailing and cruises.
Another popular lure to Taupō is the fishing. Trout were first introduced to Lake Taupō in 1887, and by 1895 the integration was so successful that Lake Taupō and its rivers became famous as an anglers paradise. Outfitters in the area offer gear to purchase or rent, or you can opt to sign on to a chartered expedition.
Riverside Market is the local marketplace and offers a wide variety of goods such as clothing, baked goods, jewelry, arts and crafts, books and collectables. Cafes and restaurants include BodyFuel Café , Replete and Plateau, just to name a few. The town center is generally compact and easy to get around in. Two easy ways; the Lake Taupo Hot Bus and Shuttle 2U. Rental cars are available at several locations as well as ample taxi services.