During our holiday we stayed just across the harbour inlet from Whitianga. To access the town we caught the local ferry service – a three minute trip, saving us a one hour drive. This excellent service brings you into the main jetty of the town and a pleasant walk along the waterfront. In the summer season the ferry runs continually during the day till late in the evening, even if there is only one citizen waiting to cross. Some of the ferry pilots have been serving the community for years.
Across the harbour, just above the ferry landing wharf, which is the oldest stone wharf in Australasia, we came across the local library. It had just been refurbished and is very popular with the locals! I have come across some quaint country libraries over the years, but never one quite like ‘Ferry Landing’. If you click on the library to enlarge, you will see that it is well stocked!
A few days earlier, we had been exploring the township and came across an information board erected by the Heritage Society of the area. It detailed some of the history of the town, particularly the monthly cattle sale that took place at the end of Albert Street in the centre of town. Many years ago, after European settlement, Whitianga must have had something of a ‘frontier spirit’. If the incident described happened today, one can imagine the number of different regulators seeking to bring charges against those responsible! The locals of the time took it all in their stride and carried on with life. Click on the picture to ‘read all about it’.
Towards the end of our holiday we visited the site of the pa built as a stronghold by the Ngati Hei centuries ago. It is situated on a rocky headland that juts out into the harbour. In spite of its strategic position, affording sweeping views of the surrounding area, the tribe was defeated in battle by a warring party from another tribe, after they were weakend by starvation following a seige. Captain James Cook was very impressed by the site when he visited in the 18th Century. Read about this fascinating episode of history by clicking on Whitianga Rock.
Once you are perched precariously on a huge rock at the top of the narrow incline, there is a wonderful view of the Whitianga harbour entrance ( the ferry is crossing the inlet in the bottom right of the photo). If you then look over your shoulder, you see the panorama of ‘Back Bay’.
It is possible to approach ‘Back Bay’ via a short path which starts at the lower reaches of the pa site; when you arrive at the small beach, you can appreciate what wonderful natural shelter the bay provides.
I hope you have enjoyed our short visit to this beautiful part of New Zealand. If you wish to view a selected gallery of photographs taken during our visit click on Forests and Beaches of Coromandel.