Yay! Himself and I drove to the Bay of Islands and took a nano-break in our Northern backyard so to speak and joined the few visitors brave enough to visit our country at this time of the year. Three nights and four days! We stayed in Paihia. No matter the wet and wintery weather, we played the tourist and imbibed our nation’s heritage and cuisine. Of course, we checked out the cafes. We drove to a local vineyard near Kerikeri. We discovered a wonderfully crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and a fruity Pinot Noir Rose. That made the trip worthwhile.
“New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate”
he wrote. Nearly two hundred years later, the New Zealand wine industry is at an all time high, and is especially praised for it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.\
It’s fascinating to read the historically familiar names on the tombstones of the earliest settlers in the cemetery behind St Paul’s Anglican Church in Paihia, the first church to be built in New Zealand, quote:
Less than a decade after the first Christian service was held on the Northern shore of the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814, Reverend Henry Williams and Mrs Williams arrived on August 3rd, 1823 to establish the missionary settlement at Paihia. On their arrival, Mrs Williams with her three children went to reside in Kerikeri while the Reverend Henry Williams at once set to work to erect temporary buildings at the new station. On September 15th, Mrs Williams came to join her husband and records in her journal state that, not only was there a storehouse and dwelling, but also a Church, built of raupo, which was opened for Divine Service on Sunday, September 21st, 1823. This was the first Church ever built in New Zealand.The Reverend William Williams with his wife joined his brother Henry, arriving at Paihia on March 26th, 1826. This gentleman was a classical scholar of Oxford University and also had a considerable medical knowledge which was of the greatest benefit to the Mission.In the year 1828, the raupo church was replaced with a lath and plaster structure, which served until 1856 when a wooden church was built. This was used until 1874, when it was dismantled and another wooden church erected, incorporating much of the old timber. In 1925 the 1874 church was dismantled in sections and transported to serve at Taumarere. It was moved to make way for the stone Church of St Paul, the fifth to be erected on the site. It was built as a lasting memorial to Henry and William Williams.
We ferried across the bay to Russell for lunch in the Duke of Marlborough Hotel. We walked up Flagstaff Hill. We mooched around the Russell art galleries. Later, we walked along the waterfront from Paihia to Waitangi – the place where New Zealand’s founding document treaty was signed.
I actually forgot to take photos – I guess a case of being blase about familiar sights and taken-for-granted scenery. Anyway, we spent much of our time near the waterfront.