There’s a host of top Historic Sites in New Zealand to visit and among the very best are Onawe Peninsula, the Edwin Fox and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
We’ve put together an experts guide to New Zealand cultural locations and monuments, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in New Zealand, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.
What are the best Historic Sites in New Zealand?
The Edwin Fox was a Victorian sailing ship which is today partially preserved and displayed in a dry dock in the town of Picton. A museum has been built to explain and explore this ship’s long and varied history from its building in India in 1853 to the remaining hulk you can see and explore today. There is an informative video in the museum.
The hull of the Edwin Fox is evocative as she lies now in dry dock, well signed and giving a feel of its history. The museum is well laid out, and is informative, but the ship itself is a wonderful piece of history.
Onawe Peninsula is a narrow band of land, that sits out in Akaroa Harbour, looking like an exclamation mark. Akaroa Harbour is a beautiful flooded ancient volcanic crater located about 80km from Christchurch. It was the scene of a massacre in the intertribal wars of 1832.
This is sacred land to the Ngai Tahu tribe and permission must be arranged in advance. The Onawe Peninsula can be accessed at low tide only and walking time is approximately 1 hour return.
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are considered to be the birthplace of the nation of New Zealand. It was in Treaty House at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on 6 February 1840 that the founding document of New Zealand was signed. This document was the Treaty of Waitangi and it was between a large number of Maori chiefs and the British.
Visitors to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds can see Treaty House, where the document was first signed, the Maori Meeting House representing all the tribes and the visitor centre with its information boards and exhibits as well as embarking on tours and activities.
Ruapekapeka Pa was the site of one of the last military confrontations between British forces and Maori tribes in the War of the North, a conflict which erupted over British policies seen as unfavourable to the Maoris.
The local Maoris spent months preparing for the battle at Ruapekapeka Pa. Knowing that the British had far superior firepower, their leader, chief Te Ruki Kawiti, created a formidable defensive area (or “pa”) which consisted of a network of trenches and tunnels.
In December 1845, the British arrived at Ruapekapeka Pa. They were faced with a significant challenge from the Maori and, despite the fact that they eventually managed to break through the defences, the Maoris escaped. Eventually, after some time, a peace was forged between the two sides.
Today, visitors can embark on a self-guided walk of the site, where the trenches dug by the Maoris are still visible.