The Bay of Islands is an historic area and very popular tourist destination in the Northland region of the North Island of New Zealand.
- 1 Paihia – With shimmering safe waters and superb beaches, Paihia is a good base for your Bay of Islands experience. Take a relaxing walk along unspoilt beaches, take a guided tour through historical sites or go fishing. If adventure is what you seek, try skydiving, parasailing, scuba diving or kayaking. Paihia is the place of friendly locals, happy cafés and people enjoying life. Whether it is swimming with delightful dolphins, taking in a spot of retail therapy, or lazing under a tree, Paihia is the place for it. Adjacent Waitangi is one of New Zealand’s most historic sites: it is where representatives of the English Crown and a number of Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are home to the Treaty House, a fully carved Maori meeting house, a large Maori war canoe and a Visitor Centre and Gallery. The estate is a must-see for anyone interested in New Zealand’s history and culture.
- 1 Russell – A quick passenger ferry ride across the water from Paihia is the charming, elegant township of Russell. This historic township dates back to the early 19th century. Kororāreka, as it was then known, was a lawless trading centre where whalers, seafarers and merchants mixed with adventurers, deserters and escaped convicts from Australia. Today Russell is still a favoured spot for boaties who seek safe anchorage. You will find a wide range of accommodation available and you can also arrange sightseeing, adventure or fishing activity from the Russell waterfront. Drivers can take the vehicular ferry from Opua or drive the longer route from Whakapara 26 km north of Whangarei.
- 1 Kerikeri – The Mission House is the oldest building in New Zealand, and the Stone Store is the oldest stone building. These formed the centre of the first permanent Christian mission station in the country in the early 1800s, existing under the protection of the resident Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorised other Maori tribes. Kerikeri overflows with orchards and galleries, fruit and art. All along the roadside, orchards sell their delicious oranges, kiwifruit and avocados. Follow the art and craft trail and you’ll get to know some of the artisans. Visit the wineries, lunch in one of the many outdoor cafés, indulge in delicious handmade chocolates or locally made macadamia liqueur. Kerikeri also has excellent sporting facilities including golf, all-weather tennis and yachting. Expect a good choice of cafés and restaurants. Within minutes by car or an hour’s walk from the Kerikeri Basin car park is the 27-metre Rainbow Falls. Further afield lies the Puketi Forest, an ideal place to tramp and view kauri trees from a boardwalk which also has wheelchair access.
- 1 Opua – For those who arrive in the Bay of Islands by sea, Opua is your port. It’s where the boats live – yachts, launches, ferries and runabouts of every description. On the wharf, a number of charter companies offer yachts you can sail yourself. Opua is a delightful safe-haven for sailors with a 240-berth marina, yacht club, boat haul-out yards, and extensive marine services. It is also where you catch the car ferry to drive to Russell.
- 1 Kawakawa – Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Kawakawa is marked by its unique entrance sign, an arch constructed in the style of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Kawakawa is home to the famous Hundertwasser-designed public toilets – a definite must on your itinerary. This is the only building in the Southern Hemisphere designed by the Austrian-born artist and is the last building he designed before he died in 2000.
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