Rangihoua – Still remote 200 years later

Bay of Islands - Purerua Peninsula
The view of the outer Bay of Islands looking towards the entrance to the Kerikeri inlet

On the trip back from a planting day on Moturua Island a fellow “planter” suggested that we should visit Rangihoua, the site of the Marsden Cross and the first European settlement in New Zealand. We had ventured out that way some years ago but, I was told, that it had undergone a major makeover as part of the 2014 bi-centenary of the settlement and was now designated as a heritage park.

Sunday dawned clear so we decided to tackle the usually dusty road and check it out.

Situated on the Purerua Peninsula, about 22km north east of Kerikeri, Rangihou is now nothing more than bare land with the only evidence of past human habitation being the terracing of the hill that the Maori Pa (Village) had occupied.

Nature showing off along the pathway – Bulrush in a pond were in the process of dispersing seed
Rangihoua Bay
The Bay today with a painting of it 200 years earlier

The site now boasts “story” walkway of 1.5km from the top of the hills surrounding the bay down to the waterfront. Information boards along the track tell you the story of the settlement that was established just after the turn of the 19th Century; the hardships, isolation and partnership with the local Maori settlement.

Rangihoua Heritage Park
Some of the many story-boards along the track
One of the many stories.

As we sat on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine and a cup of tea, you got a real appreciation of the isolation of the area. It seemed very remote in 2016, even from nearby Kerikeri, but 200 years ago the nearest European settlement would have been Sydney, more than 2,000km away (as the crows fly).

Marseden Cross
Marsden Cross commemorates the first Christian Church service held in New Zealand on Christmas Day 1814.

The day was a contrast to the planting expedition on Moturua Island the day before. My video below tells that story.












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