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Bay of Islands

Sailing, Diving, Dolphins ...



What's On in the Bay of Islands




Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions and Events in the Bay of Islands
Hotels and Accommodation in the Bay of Islands

By Richard Moore

Dolphin Watch, Bay of Islands, NZ.If you love the ocean and enjoy pristine scenery then a visit to New Zealand would not be complete without a journey to the famed Bay of Islands.

Four-and-a-half hours drive north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands is the perfect place to enjoy water activities such as sailing, scuba diving and game fishing, as well as seeing historic towns like Russell - New Zealand's first capital - and Kerikeri, which is known for its arts and fresh produce.

Tourist central in the Bay of Islands is the pretty town of Paihia.

It is the hub for almost all of the water activities in the area, as well as the leaving point for buses heading further north.

From Paihia you can take a day trip to 90 Mile Beach, visit Cape Reinga the northernmost tip of New Zealand, cruise among the 144 islands or, in the case of the Hole in the Rock, through one.

On a recent journey we drove around the Far North and really enjoyed the experience. It gave us time to stop at lovely locations you don't usually get the chance to see. The Karikari Peninsula was one such spot, as was the Te Paki sand dunes where we used the extra time to explore a spectacular landscape.

On the way back south we detoured through the Hokianga region - stopping at a cattle sale yards on sale day - and enjoyed a slower pace of life (and gorgeous views of giant sand dunes across the harbour)in Opononi and Omapere.

In Omapere there is an amazing place to stay - the Copthorne Hotel and Resort. The hotel is a grand colonial lady but with all the modern conveniences and the view from the outside dining terrace is magical.

Just a little way on is the Waipuoa Forest, which is home to the kauri giants of Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere.

Take in the stunning scenery of the Bay of Islands on the Cape Brett and Hole in the Rock cruise, or the more leisurely Cream Trip.

An even more sedate journey is on the beautiful Tall Ship R Tucker Thompson. We have done the voyage on her twice and have loved each one. The first was on a day with no wind and so we motored around the Bay of Islands, while the second trip had strong winds enabling the old girl to really crank up the knots.

You will leave from either Paihia or Russell and get the chance to take photographs of landmarks such as Black Rocks, Urupukapuka Island, Roberton Island (Motuarohia Island) and marine life such as dolphins and seals.

Just added to the choice of cruises is the scenic cruise out of Russell.

Another leisurely way to see ther sights is the four-hour Discovery Tour. Explore islands, Maori heritage sites and golden beaches on this half-day cruise around the Bay of Islands from Paihia.

If you want to get hands-on with nature then take the time to take boat trips out into the Bay of Islands - with Dolphin Cruise or Dolphin Discovery, don a wetsuit, put on flippers and a diving mask and hop overboard to swim with the dolphins.

Rainbow FallsJust out of Kerikeri is the oldest stone structure in New Zealand - the Kerikeri Stone Store - and you can also visit the nearby Rainbow Falls, which are 27 metres high. If you are in Kerikeri on a Saturday then don't miss the great market at the Old Packhouse on the main road.

About 30 kilometres north of Kerikeri is the resting place of the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace flagship that was sunk by French agents.

It is off the stunning Matauri Bay where you can experience superb diving, great surfing and an unbelievable place to camp.

If New Zealand history is your thing then go to nearby Waitangi and visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where New Zealand's founding document was signed.

There is a museum, a Maori house and beautiful grounds to walk around. There are very good guided tours and visitors get the chance to enjoy a Maori cultural performance.

Also at Waitangi is a Maori Waka Experience where you and others paddle a 13 metre Maori war canoe down to a family marae. We have been to the Bay of Islands many times and this was one of the highlights.

And if you are interested in Maori taonga (treasures) then pop into the Tuatara Design Store in Whangarei. It is filled with wonderful Maori artefacts created by Northland artists, designers and artisans.





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