The Elms, Tauranga

The Elms is apparently the Bay of Plenty's oldest European residence. I've always wanted to visit the place but I don't think it was open to the public back when I was growing up in the bay. It's situated on what would have been a beautiful harbours edge, these days it's an isolated patch of green bordered by reclaimed land of the Port of Tauranga and the busy harbour bridge onramp. I think the original owners would be pretty shocked!

It's still worth a visit though. They do an interesting tour explaining the mission history, family history and their part in early Tauranga. The house reminded me a little of the Treaty House at Waitangi, both constructed around 1834. Check out their website for some more background.

We spread out on the front lawn in the shade and sketched, enjoying the break from the sun. The garden has some impressive old specimens of both native and introduced trees. On the right of the sketch you can see an enormous Queensland Bunya Bunya tree. Looking like a super spikey Norfolk Pine (or a Chilean Monkey Puzzle tree)with enormous spikey pine cones — you wouldn't want to stand under it.