Section Two Northland
SECTION TWO: PAGE THREE
Heritage and Culture
Significant historical sites and artifacts can be found throughout this region. The great Maori explorer Kupe and his people arrived in Northland over a thousand years ago and became the first people in New Zealand. With the passing of time, other races discovered the region, attracted by the temperate climate, the fertile land and the fortune making potential of kauri logging and kauri gum. It was in the Bay of Islands in 1840 that New Zealand became a nation with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Places of historical/cultural significance
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds: A must see for all visitors to Northland - visit the site where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was drafted, debated and signed in 1840.. www. Waitangi.net.nz.
- Russell: an historic spot, 15 minutes ferry journey from Paihia. In the 1830s it was a lawless trading centre where whalers, seafarers and merchants mixed with adventurers, deserters and escaped convicts from Australia. www.russellnz.co.nz
- Cape Reinga: one of the northernmost points of New Zealand, and is a place of great spiritual importance to Maori. It is known as 'the place of leaping', and Maori believed that from here the spirits of the dead took a last rest before beginning the journey back to their ancestral homeland, Hawaiiki.
- Kerikeri: a historic town where Maori welcomed the first European missionaries in 1819 to establish the framework of New Zealand’s bicultural society. The Stone Store and Mission House at Kerikeri is an example of early New Zealand architecture. For more information, visit www.historic.org.nz go to Places to Visit.
Activities and attractions
- Culture North Treaty of Waitangi Night Show: an evening sound and light show tells the story of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi through Maori performance, live drama, sound and light. www.culturenorth.co.nz
- Taiamai Tours: tours include an experience paddling a traditional Maori canoe and an evening trip to Ngawha Mineral Pools to bath in the waters and mud. Tours depart from Paihia. www.taiamaitours.co.nz
- Footprints Waipoua: experience New Zealand’s largest kauri forest on special guided walks with local Maori. Their most compelling tour is a four hour night walk called Twilight Encounter allowing visitors to be in the forest at a unique time.. The tours are run in association with The Copthorne Hotel and Resort Hokianga in Omapere. www.omapere.co.nz See Tours
- Guided tours to Cape Reinga: many trips depart daily from Paihia and Kaitaia to Cape Reinga. Some tour commentaries include Maori legends and stories..
Recommended bases for historical and cultural experiences
- On the west side: the towns of Omapere and Opononi in Hokianga harbour are suitable bases. This area is often referred to as the Hokianga.
- On the east side: Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri would all be suitable bases with plenty of accommodation.
A marine and coastal playground
For lovers of anything aquatic Northland’s got it all: it’s the ultimate boating destination, with a huge range of charter yachts, cruises and dolphin encounters, has a good choice of diving spots, and for those wanting to experience fishing there is a large fleet of charter boats available to cater for all kinds of fishing.
Boating experiences in the Bay of Islands
Daily cruises, charter yachts, kayaks and jet boats provide for a huge choice of on the water experiences.
- Cape Brett ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise: the most popular tourist cruises in the Bay of Islands, boats journey from the wharf at Paihia out to the Hole in the Rock - a half day trip. For a different experience clients may wish to travel aboard the Excitor, a racing power boat (seats 54) that speeds out to the Hole in the Rock. For more information about the Excitor visit www.fboi.co.nz
- Dolphin adventures: several operators run dolphin discovery trips with a chance to swim with the dolphins if the situation arises (not always guaranteed).
- The Cream Trip cruise: run by Fullers Bay of Islands takes passengers onboard a boat that delivers supplies to locals scattered around the many bays in the area. www.fboi.co.nz
- Sailing: day and overnight tours or your clients can charter their own sailing boat skippered or bare-boat (clients sail themselves). Check www.northlandnz.com for operator details.
Recommended bases for boating experiences:
- Paihia is the hub for most of Northland’s boating experiences.
Remnants of ancient volcanoes and sunken ships play host to all kinds of marine species.
- HMNZS Tui and HMNZS Waikato: ex New Zealand navy ships purposely sunk to become dive wrecks. For experienced divers only.
- Rainbow Warrior: a wreck located 22-27 metres/72-89 feet deep, on a sandy bottom in clear water. Trips depart from: Paihia/Kerikeri. For experienced divers only.
Story: The Rainbow Warrior a Greenpeace boat, was the victim of a terrorism act. It was blown up when moored in Auckland in 1985. A hole 3-4 metres wide was opened below the waterline causing the vessel to sink within minutes. A crew member was killed in the incident. It was found after investigation that French Secret Service Agents, employed by the French Government were responsible for the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Later in the year the boat was declared unfit for further service and a decision was made to re-sink it north of the Cavalli Islands, in Northland.
- Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve: rated as one of the "World's top ten dive sites" by Jacques Cousteau, the diving here is superb, with very good visibility and marine life. The islands are bathed by a warm subtropical current, and fish include tropical species rarely found elsewhere in New Zealand waters. For divers with any level of experience.
Recommended bases for diving:
- Tutukaka and Whangarei: gateway to the world-famous Poor Knights Islands and naval ship wrecks (Tui and Waikato). Plenty of accommodation in Whangarei.
- Paihia: departure point for trips to the Rainbow Warrior.
Big-game and line fishing:
Northland is well known for game fishing. The best time for big game fishing is during January, February and March. Game fishing involves the charter of a game fishing boat and skipper. In Northland there is a large fleet of charter launches cater for all types of fishing.
Recommended bases for fishing:
- Trips can be joined from Tutukaka wharf, near Whangarei.
- Whangaroa township: go big game fishing or take a boat trip on the harbour.
Unique natural features
A large majority of the kauri trees that grow in New Zealand are located on the western side of Northland in area that is referred to as the Kauri Coast. Much of the tourism activities and attractions on this side of Northland are linked with this mighty tree.
- Waipoua Forest: home to ancient kauri trees, including 1400-year-old Tane Mahuta (the God of the Forest) and 2000-year-old Te Matua Ngahere (the Father of the Forest). Options include free walking or guided walks (see Waipoua Footprints above for guided excursions).
- The Kauri Museum, Matakohe: experience excellent working and static displays of the kauri timber and gum heritage of the area. New Zealand's largest themed museum. www.kauri-museum.com
- Trounson Kauri Park: home of the four sisters (four tree trunks from two Kauri trees) and is home to many species of native bush and birdlife, especially noted for its large Kiwi population.