Early on February 5, National Geographic Orion navigated toward our destination in the Bay of Islands. Preparations were underway to commemorate the 1840 signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of New Zealand, on February 6. We were extremely lucky, as the 35 meter/115 foot war canoe passed by as we were on our guided tour of the grounds. A ceremonial band was playing, and various activities were underway in preparation for the commemoration ceremonies tomorrow. Our group was treated to a cultural performance by the Maori. Singing, dancing, storytelling, and traditional weapons captured our attention. Everyone enjoyed free time to explore the grounds and museum.

We returned to National Geographic Orion for a delicious lunch before heading out on Zodiacs again to visit the charming town of Russell. Each group spent an hour walking around this charming village and learning about its history.