The Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands Maritime Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations for local and overseas visitors. With 144 magic islands to explore, the balmy climate, unspoiled beaches and magnificent sub-tropical
forests arecomplimented by the friendliness of the people.
The sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands are a haven for yachts
from around the world. The seas abound with kingfish, marlin and snapper, while whales and
dolphins are regular visitors
This was the cradle of Maori and European settlement in New Zealand and has many sites of historical significance.
About eight hundred years ago, the great Maori
navigator, Kupe, discovered the land of New Zealand which he named "Aotearoa" -
land of the Long White Cloud. In the centuries that followed, there were successive waves
of Maori settlement in New Zealand, many of them landing in the Bay of Islands.
The first European known to visit New Zealand was Abel Tasman in 1642. Over a century later, in 1769, Lieutenant James Cook in his ship "The Endeavor" entered the Bay of Islands and charted part of the coast.
Russell became the main centre for whaling ships and as deserters and escaped convicts settled in the area and founded grog shops and trading posts, it gained the reputation as "The Hellhole of the Pacific". Paihia, on the opposite side of the bay from Russell, became the main missionary settlement where the first Maori Bible was printed. In 1840, A treaty was signed between the northern Maori chiefs and the British at Waitangi, where the governorship of the country was ceded to Queen Victoria, in exchange for guarantees of Maori rights to their lands, fisheries and forests.
Waitangi is the most important site in modern New Zealand history. There is a museum and cultural centre in the Treaty Grounds and visitors can watch a re-enactment of the signing of the Treaty.
Russell is famous for its fine restaurants and art and crafts. Long Beach, on the ocean side of Russell, is one of the area's best swimming beaches.
Opua The northernmost customs entry point for yachts and sailing ships in New Zealand. It has a large marina with boat repair facilities. Opua wharf is the departure point for the car ferry to Russell
Kerikeri Voted New Zealand's "Best Small Town" this is the citrus fruit centre of New Zealand, It has two wineries and some excellent restaurants. The town features the oldest stone building in new Zealand.
Haruru Falls is a residential suburb about 2 km to the north of Waitangi. The horeshoe shaped falls from which the hamlet is named marks the end of the navigable stretch of the Waitangi River.