Local activities and a bit of history…
The ‘Far North’ of New Zealand is rich in history. You can lose yourself in the vast array of the various activities the region has to offer. You will need at least 3 days to truly get the most out of your visit here. And we will be most happy to assist you in finding the activities which will make your stay a memorable one.
Over a 1000 years ago, Kupe the legendary Polynesian / Maori explorer landed at Hokianga Harbour on his ocean going ‘waka’ from far away Hawaiki. The first Europeans arrived in the late 1700’s setting up missions, trading & whaling stations throughout the region. It threw two cultures together – and there were some turbulent times.
‘The jewel in the crown’ of the Far North is the ‘Bay of Islands’, a coastal area that has become renown for the immense beauty of its island studded waterways.
Paihia, started as a mission station, today it is the main tourist hub of the bay, where most of the water related activities depart from, which includes recreational & game fishing, sailing, power boating, parasailing, scuba diving, kayaking, and the different cruise boats excursions like ‘the hole in the rock’, ‘Cream trip’, ‘Dolphin watching’ or swimming with the dolphins.
Waitangi, a few minutes from Paihia, is known as the birthplace of the Nation and is where the treaty between the Maoris and the British was signed in 1840.
A visit to the Waitangi Treaty grounds and the recently established museum is immensely interesting and an absolute ‘must do’ on one’s itinerary.
A short ferry ride from Paihia across the inner bay brings you to Russell, originally a whaling port it became known as the Hellhole of the South Pacific, infamous for its debauchery. Today it is a quaint little village that has managed to retain a lot of its original architecture and charm. It has a couple of interesting museums, galleries and the oldest licensed pub, the ‘Duke of Marlborough’.
About 5 minutes south of Paihia you find Port Opua, once the largest commercial Port north of Auckland, today it is a sleepy little village that boasts the largest Marina in the north, it is the first port of entrance into New Zealand for overseas yachts, it is also where the car ferry to Russell leaves from and where you find our place ‘Cliff Edge, by the Sea’.
The Bay of Islands provides the perfect ‘base station’ from where to explore other ‘Far North’ places of interest.
Cape Reinga, the most northern tip of New Zealand, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. In Maori legend it is also the point [Spirits Bay], from where ones soul departs for the onward journey.
Coaches leave every morning for the Cape, it is a long day, but you see a fair bit of the countryside and take in 90-mile beach and the sand dunes.
An even more interesting and far shorter trip is by plane with Saltair. It takes you up along the west coast; you explore the cape and 90 mile beach by 4-wheel drive and fly back along the east coast taking in the Bay of Islands. It’s the way to go!
Kerikeri is about 30 minutes drive north, and on the fringe of the BOI. It is the vegetable / fruit bowl of the north and also its largest town. There you find Kemp House and Stone Store, the two oldest buildings in NZ, as well as a number of galleries and other stores of interest. Close by is the Puketi Forest with some magnificent Kauri Trees, and also the spectacular Rainbow Falls from where you can do a leisurely walk along the river down to Stone store.
If golf is your game there are quite a few excellent courses, like the Waitangi, with magnificent views over the inner bay; the one at Kerikeri, and the ‘holy grail’ of courses Kauri Cliffs about an hours drive north.
For hikers there are numerous options, like the Opua to Paihia coastal walk, which you can catch just below Cliff Edge; the Waitangi to Haruru Falls; the Russell to Okiato; the Rainbow Falls to Stone Store, or for the extremely fit a hike from Rawhiti to Cape Brett.
As you can see you need at least 3 days in the Bay of Islands to do any sort of justice as to what our region has to offer.
May we suggest that you go on our local Tourism website northlandnz.com which gives you detailed information on the many activities, attractions and what the Bay of Islands has to offer.