NORTHLAND & BAY OF ISLANDS
The subtropical Northland region of New Zealand stretches upwards from Auckland to the very top of New Zealand. Northland is a story of two coastlines – the west coast is rugged and soulful while the east coast is relatively more sophisticated and urbane.
In the beautiful Bay of Islands you can take a boat cruise, swim with dolphins, dive, fish or just relax in the sun. Be sure to visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand's most significant historic sites where New Zealand’s founding document was signed by Maori and Pakeha (European) leaders. Russell, once the rowdy and bustling capital of New Zealand, today maintains a lively and casual island feel due to its isolation from the mainland. From here walk north to Flagstaff Hill, a reserve that was once the scene of a historic confrontation between Maori leader Hone Heke and the British Colonials. The flag pole flying the Union Jack was severed four times before war settled the dispute. Kerikeri, the earliest permanent settlement in New Zealand, houses some of the country’s oldest buildings, bush walks, arts and crafts and local cuisine.
As well as the peace and relaxation of the beaches and fishing and sailing opportunities, the Bay of Islands provides for the thrill seekers; one of the most popular attractions is the Hole in the Rock, off Cape Brett. You can take a boating trip through the hole in a huge rock outcrop. Here you can also swim with the local common and bottlenose dolphins, or take a diving trip to see the final resting place of the Rainbow Warrior wreck.
Whangaroa Harbour provides another opportunity to polish up your deep-sea angling skills. Fishing is a religion around these parts. Whangaroa township is known as 'Marlin Capital' of New Zealand. The Whangaroa Big Game Fishing Club, situated over the water's edge in the township, has an outstanding display of fishing memorabilia.
Other features of Whangaroa are harbour cruises, sailing, snorkelling, sea-kayaking, golfing and climbing the Duke's Nose, which from the top has a majestic view. Formed as water eroded the volcanic debris of twenty million years ago and bush filled its valleys and hillsides, it is a place like no other. Whangaroa is a unique gem.
Kerikeri is known for its orchards, wineries and art galleries. Lunch in one of the many outdoor cafés and indulge in delicious handmade chocolates or limoncello. Kerikeri also has its own natural skincare range, which is ‘made of New Zealand’. Kerikeri has excellent sporting facilities including golf, all-weather tennis and yachting. For the nature enthusiasts, the Rainbow Falls and the Puketi Forest are definitely worth a visit. 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.