Dashing Through the Northland
out of Auckland the next morning and spent the next few days exploring the
Northland. There are some pretty amazing places in the Northland, including the Bay
of Islands and Cape Reinga, and I really wished that I had more time to spend
here. At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to drive all the way up to Cape
Reinga on the northernmost tip of New Zealand, especially since the last 20 miles
of the drive were on a dirt road, which my car wasn't insured on. However,
since I had driven to the southernmost tip at Bluff four weeks earlier, I
figured I better make it up to Cape Reinga, as well. I'm glad I did,
too, because this is one of the most spectacular parts of the country. Standing by
the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, you really feel like you're at the end of the
On my way
back to Auckland that afternoon, I dropped by the town of Waitangi, one of the
oldest European settlements in New Zealand. As luck would have it, this
was February 6, also known as Waitangi Day, New Zealand's national holiday and
similar to the 4th of July in the U.S. As I discovered, being in Waitangi
on Waitangi Day is a bit like being in Philadelphia on Independence Day, or in
Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day.
already touched on the Maori situation in New Zealand, but I'll fill in some of
the details here. On
February 6, 1840, the English and the Maoris signed a treaty in Waitangi bringing the Maoris under the protection of the English. By signing the
treaty, the Maoris didn't give up any land, but they did allow
English agents to act as intermediaries to buy land from the Maoris and then
sell it to English colonists -- not at all like the land-grabs that took place
in North America between the American settlers and Native Americans.
general, the relationship between the Maoris and the whites was (and is) much
smoother than the situation in American between whites and Native Americans.
Overall, one of the things I've been impressed with in New Zealand is how much
better the native tribes have assimilated into the white culture compared to how
Native Americans have been treated in the U.S. Maybe "co-exist"
is a better word than "assimilate" though, since, although more evident in the
north than in the south, the Maori culture is very strong throughout New Zealand
and Maoris are treated much more as equals than Native Americans are in the U.S.
driving over 500 kilometers (300 miles) that day on narrow, winding roads out to Cape Reinga
and down to Waitangi, my one-hour drive to the Auckland airport the next morning
was downright leisurely. I filled up the Corolla's tank and dropped the
car off with Sigit at Easy Rental who was happy to see me, and his car, back in one
piece. After we had a nice chat, Sigit drove me out to the airport where I said
goodbye and bade farewell to the trusty Corolla, which had carried me 8,000
kilometers around New Zealand without a lick of trouble. Sigit's a good guy, he runs an efficient company, and if you want to rent a
mid-1990s car in New Zealand for a few weeks or a few months at a much better
rate than you can get from Hertz or Avis, I'd recommend contacting him at
left: Heading through the
Northland (the peninsula north of Auckland) the next day. This is near Dargaville.
right: Check out the license plate: "Dels V8".
left: Typical vista in the
center: Heading up to Cape Reinga,
near the end of Highway 1.
right: Looking west from Cape Reinga, the northernmost point in
New Zealand. That's the
westernmost point in New Zealand off in the distance.
left: The lighthouse at Cape Reinga,
on a beautiful, windy afternoon.
center: The signpost at Cape
Reinga, and as far north as you can go in New Zealand. I've now been to
the northernmost and southernmost points of the country.
right: Cable Bay near Kaitaia.
Travels (2001-02) >
Story List >
New Zealand and Cook Island Stories >
Dashing Through the Northland