Located just 193 kilometers away from Auckland, the Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s most loved tourist destinations. Thanks to the rich history carrying imprints from its Maori as well as British influenced past as well as abundant natural beauty, the place is equally popular among families, honeymooners as well as backpackers. The Bay of Islands is an excellent place for thrill and adventure seekers looking for diving and snorkelling opportunities in its clear waters.
Exploring the Boutique Towns
Peaceful, little boutique towns constitute the Bay of Islands. While all of them are well worth a visit, tourists hard pressed for time can visit Paihia or Russell towns. Paihia is ideal for family vacations or tourists looking for some action in the form of sailing, fishing, swimming, dolphin watching, day walks and more whereas Russell has an attraction for those looking to find culture and history in the Bay of Islands. Historically known as the “the hell hole of the Pacific”, Russell has monuments carrying the imprints of sailors, whalers and traders from the 19th century, the most popular among these being the Pompallier and Christchurch. At Christchurch, the bullet holes from the Maori Wars are still visible on the walls. Other popular towns you can include in your itinerary include Kerikari, Waitangi as well as Kawakawa.
Delving Deeper Into the Maori Culture
The Northland Region where the Bay of Islands finds itself located is known as the birthplace of New Zealand. Naturally, the region is embossed with Maori cultural experiences. Initiate yourself into the exploration of the Maori culture by visiting the spiritually important, Tane Mahuta, the world’s largest Kauri Tree. For a close and personal encounter with Maori hospitality, visit a Marae (a Maori house) and taste delicacies made using the Maori traditional method of cooking, hāngi. Also visit the Hokianga Harbour where it is believed that the Polynesian explorer Kupe (an ancestor for many Maori tribes) first set foot during his quest to discover New Zealand.
Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a significant spot for tracing back the history of New Zealand. It is here that the founding document of New Zealand’s existence as a nation was signed in 1840. Today, the place boasts Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, the Treaty House and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe. The grounds are also known to offer beautiful vistas of the Bay of Islands to their visitors. It is best to take a guided tour here in order to know the details that you might miss when you are on your own. You must witness the cultural performance that takes place in the Meeting House for a memorable experience.
Dive at Some of the Best Spots in New Zealand
While the whole of New Zealand is the nature’s own playground perfect for diving and snorkelling, it is the Northland where you can find some of the best diving spots the country has to offer. Other than the sunken shipwrecks, a fascinating variety of marine-life awaits you here. Often rated as one of the best diving sites in the world, the Bay of Islands offers you a close encounter with Lord Howe Coralfish, Toadstool Grouper, Cape Brett, Short-tail Stingrays, Big-eye Cavefish and large Snapper among other varieties of fish.