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northland & bay of islands regional information | back to regions & attractions

Bay of Islands Region MapThe region of Northland and the Bay of Islands stretches north from Auckland, towards the warm waters of Polynesia, the ancestral home of New Zealand's first inhabitants.

The relaxed, sunny lifestyle of Northland comes from its subtropical climate and the array of beautiful islands, beaches and bays. The people of the North have a passion for water sport - surfing, boating, game fishing, sailing and diving. They also offer a great insight to the region's fascinating Maori and European history.

It is believed that the first Polynesian voyagers arrived in this region during the 11th century, but it wasn't until after the landing of the British sea voyager Captain Cook in 1769 that missionaries, whalers and traders arrived. The Treaty of Waitangi, the document that founded bicultural New Zealand, was signed in the Bay of Islands in 1840. There are plenty of of historical buildings and museums that provide a unique insight into colonial New Zealand.

For some suggested itineraries that include Northland, please click here.

For a video preview of Northland and the Bay of Islands region, please click here.

top attractions

  • Dolphins at The Bay Of IslandsRugged and romantic spots like KariKari (location for the movie, The Piano). Many West Coast beaches are wild with black sand and a backdrop of stunning rainforest. The East Coast has gentler surf and golden sand.
  • Have a thermal swim at Waiwera (about an hour from Auckland).
  • In the 9,000 hectares Waipoua Forest you'll find a 1200-year-old kauri tree called Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) which is 50 metres tall and 14 metres in girth.
  • Drive up Ninety Mile Beach (actually only 56 miles) on your way to the northernmost point of New Zealand and watch the Tasman Sea collide with the Pacific Ocean. Climb the Cape Reinga lighthouse.
  • Swim with the dolphins.
  • Walk to Haruru Falls - 3km from Paihia. The water falls in a horse shoe shape - very rare and quite spectacular.
  • Dive the Rainbow Warrior or The Poor Knights (Jacques Cousteau rated it one of the world's top 5 dive sites).
  • Cruise the islands on the Cream Trip (an old dairy run).
  • Take a relaxed or high-speed boat to the Hole In The Rock.
  • Go deep-sea game fishing.
  • Hire a kayak
  • Boogie board the incredible sand dunes at Hokianga.
  • Find time for the Clapham Clock Museum in Whangarei City.
  • Visit the spot where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 making NZ a British colony and the Maori and Europeans one nation.
  • Take a seaplane out over the islands.
  • Dine on fresh seafood in Paihia or Russell or have a drink, a view and 18th Century charm at Russell's Duke of Marlborough Hotel.
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