As mentioned in my previous post, I was recently fortunate enough to spend some time in the Bay of Islands. It is a long way to travel from Dunedin, but I happened to be in Warkworth to attend Kiwi Foo Camp and while in the area decided to take a week off work to make a few historical pilgrimages.
Anyone who still clings to the misconception that New Zealand is “too young to have any real history” needs to get themselves up to the Bay of Islands. Right now, no excuses. All regions of New Zealand have a rich history but the Bay of Islands deserves a special mention. It is was the scene of some of the earliest interactions between Europeans and Māori. There were mission stations, whalers, traders, traitors, wars, treaties and more stories of adventure than can be found in a complete set of Tintin books.
The common factor in many episodes of the Bay of Island’s history is the role played by tall ships. Here are just a few of my favourite examples:
1769 – The Endeavour visits. Captain Cook gives the Bay of Islands its name and declares it is “a noble anchorage”.
1826 – The Herald is launched from Paihia
1827 – Two whaling vessels attack the brig Wellington, which had been captured by pirates. Yes you heard that right…. PIRATES!!!!!
1835 – The HMS Beagle arrives with two notable guests – Robert Fitzroy (the original weather forecaster, and one day Governor of New Zealand) and Charles Darwin (who upset lots of people when he wrote something about monkeys)
1840 – The HMS Herald delivers William Hobson to the Bay of Islands so he can persuade chieftains to sign a treaty at Waitangi.
1845 – The HMS Hazard opens fire on Kororareka (modern-day Russell)
So what better way for a history geek to experience the Bay of Islands than to see it from the same perspective as all the above – from a tall ship. Fortunately the R. Tucker Thompson offers that very opportunity.
Here are some snaps from the weekend…
The R. Tucker Thompson uses the proceeds from its day sails in the Summer to offset the costs of its youth development programme through the other months. It also offers a four day history tour several times a year (drool!) and occasionally makes longer voyages.
This year it is heading over to Sydney to join other tall ships at the 2013 International Fleet Review and is offering intrepid adventurers the opportunity to sail with them. Crossing the Tasman on a tall ship sounds absolutely incredible, I can just imagine what it must be like to catch the first glimpse of Cape Reinga after a week or two at sea!
The R. Tucker Thompson Bay of Islands day sail certainly gets History Geek’s wax seal of approval. It is an excellent “living history” experience and a great way to see the area from the same perspective as the first European visitors. Also it is a perfect way to spend a beautiful sunny day – the crew put on a mean feed, offer cold beers from their on-board bar and give you the oppurtunity to go for a swim and explore idyllic island beaches.
© Lemuel Lyes