With the wild Tasman Sea buffeting the West Coast and the South Pacific lapping the East Coast, the pleasures of New Zealand's top half are deliciously salt-flavoured. In an uncrowded world of red-flowered pohutukawa trees, surf and sea-scented air you can rejuvenate body and soul and reclaim your freedom. Northland is a place where you can indulge the senses - rejuvenate body and soul. With its own unique brand of subtropical pleasures you can find yourself in an exclusive luxury lodge or up-market retreat. Many are off the beaten track, hidden in the tropical greenery or set high up above the coastline far from the nearest neighbour. All around the north, fresh local produce, a wide variety of seafood and award winning local wines are combined with Pacific rim cuisine which wins approval from the most sophisticated travellers. The region is well known for its food and wine trails encompassing the country's northernmost vineyard at Kaitaia. Other wineries offer coastal views and cafés which cleverly combine Mediterranean ambience with a distinctive New Zealand flavour. A number of celebrated artists and craftspeople, some internationally known, work here and visits to their studios and galleries can be woven into the wonderful food and wine trails of the north.
You can read more about what to do in Northland and Bay of Islands in our blog on Bay of Islands & Northland recommended activities.
A little history lesson... Legend tells us that the North Island of New Zealand is actually the world’s largest fish. Maui, a Maori hero of ancient times, hooked the enormous fish during an expedition to prove his fishing prowess. If you look at a map of the North Island, you can see that Wellington is the head, Cape Taranaki & East Cape are the fins, and Northland is the tail of the fish - Te Hiku o Te Ika. Kupe - Kupe and his crew, in his waka Matahorua, voyaged deep into the Southern Ocean. He discovered Te Ika-a-Maui, and it was his wife Kuramarotini who called the land 'Aotearoa’ (land of the long white cloud). The first landfall of the waka Matahorua was the shores of the Hokianga Harbour. Many of the tribes-people of Northland trace their ancestry back to Kupe. Maori people lived throughout Northland in kainga (villages). As today, they felt an intense closeness to their kin. They lived within the whanau (immediate family) and then within their extended family, called the hapu. The largest group they called iwi (tribe). They did not think of themselves as one people, they belonged to their tribes – Ngati Whatua, Nga Puhi, Te Roroa, Ngati Wai, Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngaitakoto, Ngatikahu and Te Rarawa.
Waipoua Kauri Forest Northland: A spectacular walking track takes visitors to New Zealand's largest kauri tree. Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is 2000 years old and measures 59 feet around the broadest trunk.
Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach: Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand has great views of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean merging.
The Bay of Islands: Wherever you are in the Bay of Islands, it's impossible to escape the lure of the sea. Catch a ferry or charter boat and immerse yourself in the blue-green world of island and beach. Or paddle a sea kayak in and out of island nooks and crannies. Swimming with dolphins is another specialty of the Bay of Islands.
- Explore the quaint fishing village of Mangonui
- Discover the excellent fishing & swimming locations of Coopers Beach, Taupo Bay, Oke Bay, Tokerau Beach, Whatuwhiwhi and many more
- Try game fishing for marlin, tuna, kingfish... from Whangaroa Harbour, Bay of Islands, Tutukaka and more
- Saddle up and discover many wonderful horse trails from Pakiri Beach to the far North
- Dive trips to the Rainbow Warrior operate out of Matauri Bay and Paihia
- Go swimming with dolphins amongst the many Islands littered throughout the Bay of Islands
- Take the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise to the tip of Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands
- Visit Waitangi National Reserve, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840
- Experience kiwi spotting at night within their natural environment at Aroha Ecological Centre
- Tutukaka offers unparalleled NZ diving at the famous Poor Knights Islands (a wildlife & marine reserve)
- Discover the freshwater Kai Iwi Lakes for safe swimming, boating and relaxing
- Grab your surf or boogie board for the seemingly endless string of surf beaches
- Call into Matakohe Museum, for an understanding of the Kauri logging and gum digging heritage of the area
- Play a round of golf at New Zealand's number 1 course Kauri Cliffs
- Explore the many bays, inlets and beautiful clear waters of Northland with some kayaking
- Indulge in the freshest, tastiest 'kia moana' (sea food) you've ever seen
- Or just sit back, unwind and let the world pass you by in this unique little slice of South Pacific paradise!