About the Bay of Islands

There are few places in New Zealand, indeed in the world, where so much can be seen, savoured and experienced within a triangular stretch of land no more than a maximum of 90 minutes’ drive from any point and more frequently much less.  Welcome to the Far North.

The Cradle of the Nation guide on this website provides a truncated history of the Far North and the Maori meaning of the names of towns and sites.


There are numerous opportunities to absorb New Zealand’s pre-European and colonisation in the Far North – Stone Store, Kemp House, Waimate Mission House, the Hokianga, Cape Reinga and, of course, the Waitangi Treaty where the covenant declaring our nationhood was first signed in 1840.

A short ferry ride from Paihia will take you to Russell, or Kororareka, once famously known as ‘The Hell-Hole of the South Pacific’.

Pompallier House, containing the country’s first printing press, and New Zealand’s first Anglican church can still be seen today.

The Sea

American author, Zane Grey, immortalised this fisher’s paradise in ‘The Tales of An Angler’s Eldorado.’

Game and recreational fishing are readily available as is sailing, power-boating, kayaking, snorkeling, parsailing and scuba-diving.

The famous Bay of Islands ‘Cream Trip” and the Hole-in-the-Rock experience are all available from Paihia as is dolphin-watching.

On occasions at certain times of the year Orca can be seen too.

The Land

From Rainbow Falls and Puketi Rainforest in Kerikeri to the famous Ninety Mile Beach north of Kaitaia and on to Cape Reinga and lighthouse, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea join aquatic hands… there is a wealth of land to explore.

Maori believe the soul departs from this northern-most point in New Zealand for the onward spiritual journey (Spirits Bay).

Other Activities

The Far North is renowned for golf courses from Waitangi (which many suggest offers one of the most beautiful vistas in the world), to the Bay of Islands club in Kerikeri or to Kauri Cliffs just 20 minutes’ drive north.

Perhaps explore the stunningly beautiful Whangaroa Harbour, north of Kaeo, and climb the highest point of St Paul’s.

Or, for the more adventurous, a sky dive is available from Kerikeri airport as is a scenic flight to the Cape.

Half an hour’s drive from Kerikeri is Doubtless Bay, named by Captain Cook who reputedly suggested ‘Doubtless a bay.”  It is indeed.  And it is here the self-styled world-famous’ Mangonui fish and chip shop and eatery overlooks the bay from a restaurant built on poles resting on the ocean floor.

The popular Northland Wine Trail will take in local vineyards producing medal-winning wines.

Try the Fat Pig, the Bent Duck, Morepork or Kapiro vineyards.

Each name reveals as much about the vineyard as the owners!

Most have cellar doors and two – Marsden Estate and Ake Ake – have superior restaurants on site.


Visit the Destination Northland website for more activity ideas: CLICK HERE