Moa, Duke of Marlborough, Cape Reinga and Bay of Islands

By pure chance kiwisinoz is visiting all of the capital cities that NZ has had since 1840.  Russell, a small town located in the Bay of Islands was NZ’s capital in 1840. The European population comprised of deserting seamen, runaway convicts from Australia, and grog sellers. The town became lawless and was dubbed the “Hell Hole off the Pacific”.

Eventually Maori warriors felled Russell which resulted in the many fleeing the town, allowing it to be rebuilt in a more respectable manner.

Our 10 minute ferry ride from Paihia to Russell led us to a very historical location in Russell.  This correspondent can confirm that the Paihia to Russell ferry doesn’t cater for anyone to drink a bottle of amber liquid and photograph it.

There are many aspects of Russell that are steeped in history. One of the most significant is that it is home to the watering hole that can proudly claim the status as NZ’s first licensed hotel in NZ (this was granted in 1827). This is The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. Today there are no Maori warriors or lawless European settlers, instead a very quaint setting with a live (chilled out) band on the foreshore directly opposite, entertaining the many tourists.

The Duke of Marlborough - site of NZ's first licensed hotel (1827)

The Duke of Marlborough’s interior is a step into the back into the early 20th century – quite exquisite.  More importantly, it has a respectable Kiwi Craft Beer menu. The chosen drop on this occasion was Moa. We’ll get to the beer shortly……more about the area first.

Paihia is the jewel in the crown of the Bay of Islands – a glorious beach and countless adventure activities and more. The Swedish, German, English, Aussie, Russian and other accents is testimony to the pulling power of this little gem. Given NZ’s summer weather tendencies, we were fortunate to a hit a good spell of sunshine.

Magical Paihia

Kiwisinoz spent half a day on a fishing boat and successfully landed several snappers. Surely all this talk about old pubs, European settlers, and sensational fishing has pommy_ch tempted to visit one of his colonies.

The snapper were plentiful!

A Bay of Islands description might as well be deleted if Waitangi is not mentioned. Just 1.5km from Paihia, Waitangi is the where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6th 1840 between the Maori chefs and the European settlers. It set out how the two peoples are to live together. Feb 6th is NZ’s national day. Although almost 172 years has passed, the treaty is still clouded in controversy.

Following this, kiwisinoz jumped on a day tour to visit the northern most point in NZ. I had to remind myself that I’m in NZ while on this day tour, the foreign accents on the trip could have fooled anyone into thinking they were somewhere in Europe!

Highlights were 90 mile beach (that’s the stretch of coast right at the top of the north island). European settlers named it 90 mile beach – it’s actual 64 miles – a slight rounding error perhaps, or a measuring instrument slightly out. What is amazing is that 90 mile beach is a state highway! When the roads are closed, traffic is diverted to the beach (provided the tide is not in!).

kiwisinoz sandboarding at 90 mile beach

Cape Reinga is the most northern point in NZ. It is a very sacred place for the Maori. It’s where spirits enter the underworld. As the picture below shows, I was exactly 1,975km from work in Sydney, 6,211 km to the South Pole, and 3,827km to the equator (in case you were wondering).

Cape Reinga - NZ's northern most point

Ok, so the scene has been set, now to the all important beer review. As mentioned earlier, The Duke of Marlborough has an impressive beer menu. One particular beer stood out for me as  I had never heard of it – the Moa Original. On closer inspection of the bottle, I learned that it has won silver at the Australian International Beer Awards, gold at the NZ Brew Awards, bronze at the Asia Beer Awards. An admirable haul of medals that Mark Todd on Charisma would be proud of. The name Mao is taken from the giant flightless bird that once roamed the NZ landscape. It reached an impressive 3.7m in height and weighed about 230kg. They became extinct several hundred years ago.

Moa Original - an absolute gem

The Moa Original is a relatively undiscovered gem for mine. It’s smooth on the way down, with the taste being a perfect blend of malt and hops. It’s easy to drink with a refreshing after taste right down to the last drop. A natural artesian water spring flowing directly beneath the Moa Brewery adds to the distinct flavour. Unlike the giant bird, this beer is not big and bold, but it’s equilibrium of ingredients had this correspondent nodding furiously in approval. My curiosity of the Moa – the giant extinct bird and the beer are now equals.

On perusal of the Moa website, I discovered there are in fact 10 varieties of beer and 2 ciders and is currently one of the largest New Zealand beer exporters to the United States. The Moa Brewery is nestled amongst the vines of the world famous winemaking region of Marlborough, New Zealand.

We’re off to NZ’s next capital city tomorrow – Auckland.