Golden beaches, secluded coves, tranquil harbours, warm waters, dramatic coastlines and spectacular forest, Northland is also rich in a unique history.
Bay of Islands is a spectacular holiday oasis dotted with tranquil seaside townships.
The seaside town of Paihia is the ideal base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Water-based activities are a focus in the Bay of Islands, including sailing, fishing, swimming with dolphins and sea kayaking. Cruises from Paihia take visitors out and about in the bay; don't miss the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett. It is also the gateway to some excellent day walks.
A quick ferry ride across the water from Paihia is the charming, elegant township of Russell. This peaceful town was once known as "the hell hole of the Pacific" when it was the shore leave destination for sailors, whalers and traders during the 19th century. Historic buildings to visit include the Catholic Mission "Pompallier" and Christ Church, which still carries the bullet holes from the Maori Wars. Today Russell is still a favoured spot for boaties who seek safe anchorage, and is a popular spot for young and old to visit or stay.
Truly one of New Zealand's most historic sites, Waitangi Treaty Grounds is the place where both Maori and the British Crown joined in signing the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Treaty House is located amongst a vast peaceful estate and is a must see for any visitor interested in New Zealand's history and culture.
Kerikeri is a lively town full of galleries, cafés and gourmet food shops. The area has an interesting and mottled past; it was home ground for the fearsome Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorised many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Historic early European buildings still stand and are well worth a visit. Kerikeri is a gateway to the fabulous Puketi Kauri Rainforest.
Kawakawa, about 20 minute drive from the Bay of Islands, is home to the famous Hundertwasser toilets, an amazing work of art from Austrian artist Fredrich Hundertwasser. Through the centre of Kawakawa runs the the railway line with the recently restored vintage steam train engine, ‘Gabriel’. The Kawiti Caves at Waiomio are another nearby attraction – pure white limestone formations, glistening glow worms and 12 generations of history.