Hole in the Rock
The ferry cruise and tour of the Bay of Island out of Paihia was both spectacularly breathtaking and extremely informative. Departing from the dock we first stopped at a small vacationing town, once referred to as 'The Hell Hole of the Pacific' for its past history as a whaling outpost full of brothels, pubs, and drunken sailors. Today it is ironic to see that it is an upper class vacationing destination full of sailboats and yachts. As we cruised throughout the bay we learned from the captain of the initial discovery of the area by none other than Captain James Cook himself, where he was first to count 144 islands in the bay. Another particularly interesting story about the bay's past was the story of Robertson's island. At this location there used to be a European family living there accompanied by the son of a Maori chief. The story says that the European father of the family was very rude and disrespectful to the Maori man, even beating him at times. As part of the Maori culture it is believed that injustices and great disrespect justifies violent retribution. This led the young Maori man to violently kill the European man and subsequently kill the rest of his family. Unfortunately this led to a clash of cultures as the European justice system demanded that the man be brought to the city, given a public trial and hung publicly. The Maori tribe tried to intervene by saying that they would impose their own punishment to avoid the public humiliation, but to no avail.
After this island we went to the Hole in the Rock, a massive island with an eroded hole in it wide enough for the ferry to pass through. The hole caused by erosion from the waves will eventually collapse, but another hole has already begun to form. The Maori story of the hole says that if a drop of water falls from the cave onto your head you will be blessed with eternal youth and luck. Also at the location we saw a large school of fish at the surface which was very interesting to see. It is likely that the Hole in the Rock provides a great habitat for many aquatic species.
Overall the cruise through the Bay of Islands was extremely interesting and informative on many scientific levels and culturally as well. Not only did I enjoy the great beauty of Paihia, but learned a great amount to that will last for a long time.