Northland and Bay of Islands
Northland and Bay of Islands Overview
Northland is a region in New Zealand rich with historic significance, and it is also the birthplace of New Zealand. It is one of the first regions settled from Polynesia, and also the place where the European settlers first made contact with the Maori. The main attraction in this region is the sublime maritime park of the Bay of Islands, with no less than 144 islands and secluded bays. Most visitors queue up for the Bay of Islands, but all along the East Coast you'll find scenic, sheltered bays and exquisite beaches.
Also called the "Winterless North", the subtropical climate is pleasant throughout the year, and an aquatic playground for a whole range of leisure and adventure activities such as diving, fishing, sailing, surfing, kayaking and dolphin swimming. The main gateway for these activities is Paihia.
The towns in the Bay of Islands are great places to learn about New Zealand's history. Waitangi is where the treaty between Maori and European settlers was established. The historic buildings in the picturesque seaside town of Russell a well worth a visit.
The Far North feels a lot more isolated but a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without visiting its most northern point at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The drive up to Cape Reinga allows for numerous stops on Ninety Mile Beach and its massive sand dunes. The two remote beaches of Tapotupotu Bay and Spirits Bay are an excellent side trip for those wanting to get off the beaten path.
The western side of Northland is less visited, but makes for a great loop journey. Hokianga harbour is a place to truly unwind as many alternative lifestylers have found out, and the find the largest Kauri trees in New Zealand at the Waipoua forest.
Things you shouldn't miss in Northland
- Hike one of the coastal tracks at Cape Reinga.
- Drive along the Tutukaka Coast. The approach to the Bay of Islands is simply stunning.
- Learn about New Zealand's history at the Waitangi Treaty grounds.
- Swim with dolphins or kayak in the Bay of Islands.
- Hire a charter and go fishing. A great catch is guaranteed as these are some of the best fishing grounds of New Zealand!
- Explore one of the many surf excellent breaks such as Taupo Bay, Ahipara and Sandy Bay.
- A visit to Whangaroa Harbour, the most beautiful harbour in New Zealand.
- Sandboarding down the massive dunes of Ninety Mile Beach.