Bay of Islands Attractions
The Bay of Islands, so named by Captain Cook who visited the bay in 1769, lies near the north end of the North Island. It is sprinkled with more than 150 small islands, mostly green and wooded. It is a drowned river system, the result of the rise in sea level after the last ice age. Its particular charm lies in the scatter of islands and subtropical climate. It is a popular resort for sailing enthusiasts and anglers. The Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser settled here and planted thousands of trees on his property, a former farm at Kawakawa.
Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park
The Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park extends from Whangaruru in the south to Whangaroa in the north. In addition to the islands it includes protected nature reserves and places of historical interest on the coast and in its hinterland.The park can be explored on a network of trails or by boat and there are accommodation huts and campsites. The park offices, with an information center, are in Russell. There is also a park rangers' station in Kerikeri.
Paihia, New Zealand
In the southwest of the Bay of Islands is the little town of Paihia (pop. 3000), which developed out of a mission station founded in 1823 and is now the chief town in the bay. Among the missionaries active in this area were Henry Williams and William Colenso, who were present at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Features of interest in the town are St Paul's Church (1926) and the Museum of Shipwrecks (on board the barque Tui), with treasures recovered from local shipwrecks.
3km west of Paihia are the Haruru Falls, which are particularly impressive after heavy rain.
Waitangi, New Zealand
2km north of Paihia, reached over a bridge, is Waitangi, situated in an inlet off the Bay of Islands. Here on February 6th 1840 the famous treaty was signed between British officials and local Maori chiefs, which provided the basis for the formal establishment of the British colony of New Zealand.
Maori Meeting House
A large Maori meeting house was erected in 1940 on the centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi. The carving was the work of the famous Maori woodcarver Pine Taiapa. It incorporates all the different regional styles and bears witness to the Maoris' new-found national self-awareness. There is also a large canoe decorated with carving, made from the trunks of three kauri trees.
The Treaty House was built in 1833 by the Sydney architect John Verge as the private residence of James Busby, the British government's representative in the colony. The side wings were added later. In 1932 it was acquired by the then Governor General and presented to the people of New Zealand. It is now open as a historic monument.