Mangroves and pretty toes in Paihia

Rest, rest ,rest. Can anything be more wonderful? The gratuitous excuse to lollop and do nothing? But is there anything harder to make yourself do when you’ve been running full pelt for weeks and months?

Paihia is one strip of coastal road with backpackers galore, and endless boat hire and ferry companies charging extortionate amounts for trips out into the bay to see a Hole in the Rock and dolphins. I’ve seen holes in rocks before, and dolphins… well, I’m not overly bothered.

But what do you do when you’re busy doing nothing?

The first afternoon I walked through town to Waitangi, where the British signed a treaty with the Maori, which made New Zealand officially part of the Empire. Go us. There are quibbles over the word meanings in the different versions of the document. In the English version it’s clear the Maori chieftains were giving away their sovereignty. In the Maori version it looks like they retain sovereignty of their lands. And so begins endless years of controversy that we Brits seem to excel at creating. Another splendid moment in our history. Nevertheless, as the museum points out, whatever its difficulties, it is still a document that demonstrates the goodwill of two groups of people wanting to find a way of co-existing.

History lesson learnt, the next day, I painted my nails. Then I went for a wander, and ended up walking 13km to a waterfall and back, through a mangrove swamp, wearing only flip flops. At least my toes looked pretty.

It was very beautiful, and well worth it for the coffee at the end.

It also marked the beginning of the end of the absurd whiteness of my skin, and a return to summer gloriousness. Long may it continue.



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