The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, overlooking the Bay of Islands, is New Zealand's pre-eminent historic site often called “The Birthplace of a Nation”. It was here on February 6th, 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori and the British Crown. It is also the site of the annual Waitangi Day celebrations.
The Treaty Grounds are part of the 506 hectare (1000 acre) Waitangi National Trust estate, which was gifted to the nation by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932. The Treaty Grounds include the Treaty House - built for the first British Resident, James Busby and his family. It is one of New Zealand's oldest and most visited historic homes. It contains a museum devoted to the Treaty and to life in the house in the mid nineteenth century.
The imposing Naval flagstaff, a bit further from the house, marks the place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
Don't miss the fully carved Maori Meeting House, which is representative of all regional tribes in New Zealand. One of the world's largest Maori ceremonial war canoes is stationed here and there is a Artefacts gallery on site.
The Waitangi Visitor Centre has an audio visual show outlining the town's history of and that of the Bay of Islands. Live cultural performances put all this history into perspective. As well as a Gift shop where you can get authentic gifts and your own souvenir.
You are free to explore the extensive park-like grounds with abundant native bird life, heritage gardens, trees, and a mangrove boardwalk. The Waikokopu Cafe serves award winning cuisine, fine wine and seriously good coffee.
The heritage protected Treaty grounds are a definite not to be missed site.
1 Tau Henare Drive, Paihia, Northland.