Bay of Islands, New Zealand
At the top of the North Island's east coast this quiet region is well known for it's stunning beauty and history. In more recent times the Bay of Islands has become one of New Zealand's premier destinations for tourists.
As the name suggests there are many secluded coves and harbours ideal for water-based activities like swimming, fishing and boating. In the small seaside town of Paihia you can take daily cruises to swim with dolphins or you can charter a yacht to see the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett.
For more adventure you can start in the lively town of Kerikeri and take a guided walking tour through the majestic Puketi Rain-forest to see New Zealand's largest and most famous native tree, the Kauri Tree. Afterwards stop in at a fantastic cafe to enjoy a gourmet lunch and view some of the artistic talents the town has to offer at a local gallery.
For underwater adventure take a dive tour and explore the Rainbow Warrior and HMNZS Canterbury ship wrecks and the marine life that surrounds them.
Before you leave make sure you experience the Maori culture in Waitangi. The Waitangi Treaty grounds are a historic site where the founding document of New Zealand was signed by Maori Cheifs and the British Crown in 1840.
Here you can visit a Marae, a traditional meeting place hand-carved from wood. You are greeted by a Powhiri (welcome) and see high energy performances by men and women including the traditional war dance, the haka. After the festivities make sure you try some Hangi, a feast of meats, vegetables and dessert cooked underground using traditional Maori methods.
The Bay of Islands offer many types of accommodation. You can choose to stay in luxurious lodges and hotels, sleep on the water in a house boat or go camping on the sands of a beach.
Cars, buses and ferries are popular modes of transport in this region and you can even travel by helicopter. Auckland Airport is a 250km car journey south of Paihia or a short 40 minute flight from Kerikeri.
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