Bay Of Islands Region
Situated on the north eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, on a bay of 144 islands, the area has a warm climate, beautiful bays and sheltered beaches. It is also an area rich in history, being one of the first parts of New Zealand to be settled by Maori and Europeans alike.
The main towns in the Bay of Islands are Paihia and Russell, and to the north of the Bay, Kerikeri. Paihia offers a variety of accommodation and is the main base for excursions, including game fishing, leisure cruising, yachting, paragliding, swimming with dolphins and diving. The town also houses the Aquatic World Aquarium where visitors can learn about the sea life common to the area. Within walking distance of Paihia is the Waitangi Reserve, home to the Waitangi Treaty House. It is here that the historic Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, the founding document of New Zealand. The reserve also has a visitor’s centre, a 35 metre Maori war canoe, a Maori meeting house decorated with beautiful carvings, and coastal and mangrove forest walks.
Russell, a 20 minute ferry ride from Paihia, is a quiet township and has a place in history as New Zealand’s first capital. It offers visitors accommodation and a variety of attractions. These include a number of historic buildings such as Christ Church (1836) which is the country’s oldest surviving church, and Pompallier House; the country’s oldest surviving industrial building.
Kerikeri is set on a picturesque inlet to the north of the Bay and is the area’s main commercial centre. The town offers visitors a range of accommodation, several craft galleries and some interesting historic buildings including Kemp House (1822), New Zealand’s oldest house, and the Stone Store (1836). Close to the town is a reconstruction of a traditional Maori village.