Bay of Islands

A beautiful maritime park

The Bay of Islands in the very north of New Zealand is in a subtropical micro- region known for its stunning beauty & history. The area is a fine maritime park with its 144 islands, secluded bays and an abundance of marine life including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more. Discovered by Captain Cook in 1769, it was the start of European civilisation in New Zealand and has important historical significance for both Maori and Europeans.


The Waitangi Treaty Grounds of Paihia is where the Maori chiefs first signed their accord with the British Crown on 6th February 1840 and the Treaty of Waitangi became New Zealand’s founding document. The Treaty House is the former house of the British Resident in New Zealand, James Busby.  Within the grounds are a magnificently carved meeting house and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe which was made from one tree trunk. The joins in the boat seem to be ‘stitched’. The sides of the boat are in the same shape as a fish’s scales which make the boat smoother in the water and the ‘net’s at the front are there to catch the bad spirits. The flags flying in the grounds are the three official flags that New Zealand has had since 1834 – the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand (the earliest), the Union Jack (from 1840) and the New Zealand flag (from 1902).

Puketi Kauri Forest

The kauri tree is New Zealand’s largest and most famous native tree. It’s a type of conifer or pine tree which grows in the subtropical northern part of the North Island.  In the past, the kauri tree was deliberately wounded by Gum Bleeders to extract the highly valued gum which was used in the manufacture of varnishes and linoleum. When wounded the Kauri produces the gum to act as a bandage as the tree tries to heal itself. However, these wounds can cause infection and the tree may succumb to being blown over in storms.


The Kerikeri Basin is where Maori welcomed missionaries in 1819 to establish a Church Mission Settlement. This established the framework for New Zealand's bi-cultural society. In KeriKeri are New Zealand's oldest house, Kemp House (1821-22) and the world reknowned Stone Store (1832-36).


Russell town was the first capital of New Zealand and one of the first European settlements. It was known as 'the Hell- hole of the Pacific' as the first settlers were ship deserters and time-expired convicts from New South Wales. Captain Hobson reported that it was 'a vile hole, full of impudent, half-drunken people'. The town is rich in history with a variety of charming old shops and cafes. The Duke of Marlborough Hotel claims to hold the oldest liquor licence in New Zealand. The police station building (c. 1870) was originally the customs house. The cannon mounted close to the beach was used in the defence of the town. At the southern end of The Strand stands the elegant Pompallier House. Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier (1801- 71), a Frenchman and the first Roman Catholic Bishop of the South-West Pacific, arrived in 1838 to establish the first Roman Catholic mission in New Zealand at Kororareka (Russell).
NEW ZEALAND - Bay of Islands