Northland

The aptly named Bay of Islands is a great place to combine adventure and relaxation.

Offering some of the most scenic coastal scenery in New Zealand, 150 islands are nestled within the picturesque bay, providing the setting for activities including sailing, big game fishing and swimming with wild dolphins. The Bay of Islands is also one of New Zealand’s most historically significant areas, most notably for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between the Maori chiefs and the British. The Treaty House at Waitangi National Reserve acts as a museum and visitor centre recording these important events in New Zealand history. The reserve also houses the Whare Runanga, a Maori meeting house and the 100ft long war canoe or waka. Many visitors are drawn to the picturesque bay for the offshore activities and indeed taking to the water is the best way to appreciate the scenery.

The small town of Paihia is a favourite place to stay, being centrally located, within a short distance of Waitangi Reserve and the base for many more excursions, including the popular Cape Brett ‘hole in the rock’ cruise. The charming town of Russell is a short ferry ride from Paihia. It is smaller than its neighbour across the bay and as such more peaceful, with many historic buildings, good restaurants and interesting shops. To the west, running alongside the Tasman Sea, is the Kauri Coast whose lush forests are home to the oldest and mightiest trees in New Zealand. The largest kauri is Tane Mahuta, Lord of the Forest, whose diameter is 4.4 metres. Te Matua Ngahere, Father of the Forest, is New Zealand's oldest tree and is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old. The far north is wild, dramatic and rich in folklore and mythology. Cape Reinga is at the very tip of the North Island and is known to the Maori as Te Rerenga Wairua, the leaping-place of the spirits. It is to here that the spirits of the dead travel on their journey to the homeland, Hawaiki.

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