Steeped in history and draped in colourful stories, a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds was the only thing I had my heart set on seeing when we visited New Zealand. I was excited for our whole adventure, but Waitangi Treaty Grounds at the Bay of Islands was the one place I had wanted to visit for as long as I can remember wanting to visit New Zealand.
Moored off of the undulating, island speckled coast, Royal Caribbean tendered us ashore to a small dock at Te Ti Bay. Stepping onto dry land right between Waitangi and Pahia, we were welcomed ashore by smiling locals. Coaches waited to take people on tours and ferry excited holiday-makers into town. Adding to the holiday atmosphere, small market stalls were set up for friendly residents to purvey handmade goods, giving the whole moment an almost festive feel.
Making our way down the dock, we were handed a flyer for the Treaty Grounds with a 20% off voucher on it and given directions to get there. I would have paid fistfuls of our hard earned cash for this experience, but a discount was much welcomed. The girls, being under 18, received entry; and our voucher took the entry price down from $40 for each adult to $32.
A short, well signposted, five-minute ramble along the stunning coastline and we were standing at the entrance to the Waitiangi Treaty Grounds. If I’m honest, there is a part of me that couldn’t believe I was actually standing there. Years previously I had seen Billy Connolly explore this area on his World Tour of New Zealand and I had been so taken with it that I had dreamed of visiting ever since. What I hadn’t know at the time was that our relaxed, ‘whatever happens, happens’ attitude would serve me well in not planning this trip by booking a shore tour months in advance. If we had booked a shore tour through the cruise line,