WAITANGI TREATY GROUNDS
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are absolutely well worth a visit for everyone.
For Kiwis to learn about their history, and about the Treaty that impacts much of modern New Zealand life, how it came to be, and why it is not without controversy.
But also to visitors like myself to more fully understand how modern New Zealand came to be, to learn more about Maori culture, and to understand a little bit more about the significance of the Treaty.
Plus its also just a really gorgeous spot, right in the Bay of Islands!
We actually visited 3 times. First we went on Waitangi Day (Feb 6, NZ's National Day, and a public holiday to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi back in 1840) for the huge free festival that is thrown every year. There was concerts, entertainment, Kapa Haka, market & food stalls, multiple ceremonies, and free kids rides. Plus they get the huuuuuge Waka out on the water (which unfortunately we missed ) And if you get there early enough (we didn't) the Prime Minister, and other Members of Parliament serve you a free breakfast! (Only in NZ, I swear. Love this country) It was pretty amazing, was open to anyone, and is definitely worth visiting if you happen to find yourself anywhere nearby next February.
But during the festival all the museums and exhibitions are closed, so we went back again to visit proper. We quickly learned that one day wouldn't be enough, particularly with a baby in tow, but fortunately entry includes a second day so we came back again to finish what we didn't get to on day one. But really if you don't have young kids with short attention spans you should be right with 1 day no worries.
Admission costs are $25 per adult for Kiwi residents, or $50 per adult for non-residents. Children are free. Entry includes an optional guided tour + cultural performance, and entry for a second day if you need it. They also have a discovery trail activity for the kids.
I'm learning every day in this country but I'm far from an expert about the Treaty or NZ history (I mean once upon a time I just knew Waitangi Day as the day of the Circle Line Pub Crawl in London ) so if you'd like to know more about it, then the Treaty Grounds website has tons of great info. Or of course you could come and visit yourself!