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Monday, February 6, 2012

Road trip the 2nd: Hanmer Springs

When the hot-air balloon flight was cancelled on Sunday morning, we tried to re-book for the Monday (Waitangi Day) but alas, there was no room for us! So we decided to cut our losses and head for Hanmer Springs, the perfect "chill out" destination. We managed to nab a family room in Kakapo Lodge Youth Hostel, which was pretty lucky as most of the accommodation in the village was full. Hanmer Springs is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains, and with bungee jumping and jet-boating at the nearby river, but its biggest claim to fame is its thermal pools.

The hot springs were known about by the Māori long before the European settlers got here, but there is a plaque nearby saying the Europeans didn't discover the hot pools till 1859. At that time the pools were completely natural and freely available, steam rising up from the pools in the fields, but since then they have been developed bit by bit into the thermal pools resort we can access today, at a cost . . . Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa It is a wonderful place to visit when you feel the need to chill out and unwind, and that's exactly what we did!

We even managed to find a geocache while we were in Hanmer, and some "mooning ducks" (as Sonny Jim called them) nearby.

We drove home on Waitangi Day, still not having managed to get airborne, but having had a lovely relaxing stay in Hanmer Springs, and time to mull over the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi to this country of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Treaty is sometimes referred to as "New Zealand's founding document", but it has been fraught with controversy since the start. There were copies drawn up - one in English and one in the Māori language, but the two versions had many discrepancies. Some of the Māori chiefs signed the document whilst remaining uncertain, and other chiefs refused or weren't even given the chance to sign.  Much of the Treaty has been disregarded over the years, and the European settlers have been responsible for some terrible wrong-doing, continuing into the latter part of the 20th century. However, more recently some efforts have been made to try to compensate for some of the wrongs of the past, and I can only hope that the principles of the Treaty are afforded more respect as time goes on. . .

Treaty photo from www.nzhistory.net.nz

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