Bay of Islands Attractions

Bay of IslandsBay of Islands
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.

Haruru Falls

3km west of Paihia are the Haruru Falls, which are particularly impressive after heavy rain.

Subsea Adventure

In Otehei Bay (in the outer reaches of the Bay of Islands) you can explore the colorful underwater world of the Bay of Islands in a tourist submarine.
Address: Maritime Building on the Waterfront, New Zealand

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.

Treaty House

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.

Kerikeri, New Zealand

In a beautiful setting at the head of the narrow Kerikeri inlet, which reaches far inland from the Bay of Islands, is the little town of Kerikeri (pop. 3000), a favorite residence of artists and well-to-do retired people. Citrus fruits and various tropical fruits are grown on the fertile soil in the surrounding area.

Kemp House

Kemp House, also known as the Kerikeri Mission Building, dates from 1822. John Butler, for whom it was built, lived in it only for a year before being moved to other work. After some rapid changes of missionaries the house was occupied by James Kemp in 1832 and remained in his family until 1974. The ground floor is in the style of the 1840s, the upper floor in Victorian style.

Stone Store

Adjacent to Kemp House is the oldest stone building in New Zealand, which also belonged to the Kemp family. This two-story building was erected in the 1830s to replace a wooden storehouse that was burned down. At one time it housed Bishop Selwyn's library, which the bishop felt was safer in a stone building. During the war with Hone Heke it became an ammunition store. It is now occupied by a shop and a small museum of local history, with material on the early days of the mission station.

Rewa's Village

On the opposite side of the inlet is a reconstruction of a kainga, an unfortified Maori village, as it may have looked before the coming of the Europeans. It gives a good impression of the way of life of the Maoris before the 18th C. The village is notably lacking in carved decoration: perhaps it was believed that the much esteemed works of art with which meeting houses and storehouses were decorated would be safer in a pa (fortified settlement). Rewa, after whom the village is named, was the second-most powerful man in the tribe after its chief, Hongi Hika.
Address: 1 Landing Road, New Zealand

Kororipo Pa

On the terraced hill above the inlet is the fortified Maori village of Kororipo Pa; it is reached by a waymarked footpath from the Stone Store. This was the base from which Hongi Hika set out on his raids, thrusting as far afield as Wellington and the East Cape. In 1814 he met the missionary Samuel Marsden in Sydney and helped him to establish mission stations at Rangihoua in 1814 and later at Kerikeri.

Rainbow Falls

About 3km beyond Kerikeri are the spectacular and enchanting Rainbow Falls.

Russell, New Zealand

Some 70km northwest of Whangarei, idyllically situated on a sheltered site on the Bay of Islands, is the old whaling station of Russell (pop. 1100). The best way to reach it is by ferry from Opua or Paihia; by car it can be reached on a roundabout route via Whakapara.
The settlement, originally called Kororareka, was of importance in the early 19th C. as a whaling station and trading post, where honest traders as well as more doubtful characters did business with the Maoris. In 1840 the treaty recognizing British sovereignty was signed at Waitangi, on the opposite side of the inlet, and Governor Hobson acquired land in nearby Okiato on which to establish the seat of government. But Russell did not remain long the capital, which was soon transferred to Auckland.
The name of the place was changed from Kororareka to Russell in honor of Lord John Russell, then British colonial secretary and later prime minister. In 1841 the government buildings in Russell were destroyed by fire. The change of name probably also reflected the inhabitants' desire to throw off the bad reputation of Kororareka. With the transfer of the seat of government to Auckland the Bay of Islands area declined in population and in importance.

Christ Church

Christ Church (1836) is New Zealand's oldest surviving church. Unlike other churches in the Bay of Islands, it was built as a place of worship for the settlers rather than as a mission church. It was renovated in 1871.
Round the church are many gravestones of whalers, seamen, Maoris and early settlers.

Harbor Front

On the charming old harbor front there are many relics of the settlement's early days. Among them are the police station in the old customs house, the Duke of Marlborough tavern (which claims to have the oldest liquor license in New Zealand) and an old cannon. Yachts and catamarans of all sizes are moored on the front, a place of great activity during the holiday season and in the evenings when the deep-sea anglers come in with their catches.
From the landing stage there are pleasant cruises in the Bay of Islands (the 'cream trip', the Cape Brett trip). Visitors can also take a bus trip to Cape Reinga or cross on the ferry (15 min.) to Paihia.

Pompallier House

Pompallier House (1841-2) was not, as might be supposed, the residence of Bishop Pompallier, who founded the first Roman Catholic mission station here in 1838, but housed the mission's printing press. The house was originally less elegant; it was only after the mission moved to Auckland that the new owners substantially altered it and added the veranda and chimney. Now protected as a national monument, it is furnished in period style and still contains the old printing press.
Address: The Strand, Box 140, New Zealand

The Bungalow

At the end of the beach, adjoining Pompallier House, is the house known simply as The Bungalow. It was built in 1853 for a British businessman, James R Clendon, who was also the American honorary consul. His daughter ran a school here.

Russell Museum (formerly Captain Cook Memorial Museum)

This museum commemorates the great explorer, Captain Cook. Notable among the exhibits is a model of his ship, the Endeavor.
The Russell Museum also tells the story of the development of the town from a small Maori fishing village to a port of call for visiting ships.
Official site:
Address: 2 York Street, New Zealand

Flagstaff Hill

There are wide views from Flagstaff Hill, on which Hone Heke several times cut down the flagstaff bearing the British flag (monument).

Kawakawa, New Zealand

16km south of the Bay of Islands on Highway 1 is Kawakawa (pop. 2000), now the administrative center of the Bay of Islands district. It was originally a flax-processing center, and later coal was mined here. Today Kawakawa is noted in particular as the elected home of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The artist donated to the township a toilet shack constructed in his particular style with no corners or straight edges and which is now a tourist attraction.

Waiomio Caves

4km south of Kawakawa, on a side road off Highway 1, are the Waiomio Caves. This ramified cave system attracts many visitors with its bizarre karstic features, stalactitic formations and the spectacular Glow-worm Cave. It is owned by descendants of Chief Kawiti, who fought alongside Hone Heke at Ruapekapeka.

Ruapekapeka Pa

The Maori stronghold of Ruapekapeka Pa is of great interest. This was the scene of the last battle between Hone Heke and British troops. The pa, commanded by Hone Heke and his ally Kawiti in 1846, could not hold out against the sustained fire of the British forces, and after the storming of the fort, which was watched by Governor Gray himself, Gray declared peace and allowed the Ngapuhi to return to their tribal territory. The rebels' land was not confiscated, as it was later in the land wars on the Taranaki Peninsula, in the Bay of Plenty and at Waikato. The remains of ramparts, underground positions and tunnels can still be identified, as well as the British gun positions. (The Maori defenses provided a model for the trench systems of the first world war.)
From the elevated battle site there are fine panoramas of the mountains of Northland.

Waimate North

20km west of Paihia Samuel Marsden established the first Anglican settlement in the interior of the island in 1830. He laid out a farm on a British model so that the natives should not only be converted but should be introduced to useful work. The farm was a great success, and Charles Darwin, emerging from a long journey through primeval forest in 1835, was astonished to find himself in what seemed to him an English village. For a time Bishop Selwyn made the farm his residence and installed a theological seminary here.

Mission House

A relic of the early settlement is the mission house, built in 1832 and thus the second-oldest surviving European building in New Zealand. A good example of the early colonial architecture, it is furnished in period style.

St John's Church

Beside the mission house is St John's Church (1871), the third church on the site. The churchyard contains 19th C gravestones.

Steam Railway

Another attraction is the old steam railroad that runs beside the main road and links Kawakawa with the old coal port of Opua.
Bay of Islands Map - Tourist Attractions Bay of Islands Map
Want to use this map on your web site?
Copy and Paste the code below:

Popular Pages