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Bay of Islands

Visitors are attracted to the Bay of Islands for sightseeing, water sports and exploring the history of New Zealand.

The Bay of Islands is well named as it has 144 islands and many secluded bays. It is a marine park and the marine life includes marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species.

Bay of Islands- Russell from Flagstaff
Bay of Islands- Russell from Flagstaff - Credit- Peter Hunt

The main tourist centre is Paihia, but from there visitors take many trips. Bus trips take them to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach and launch trips take them across the Bay to Russell.

The Bay of Islands is rich in history. Early in the nineteenth century whalers, sealers and traders congregated in Kororareka, now Russell. In the bay the first Christian service was conducted by English missionary, Samuel Marsden, on Christmas Day 1814. The Waitangi National Reserve, a short walk from Paihia, is where the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of modern New Zealand, was signed in 1840. The house where the treaty was signed has been preserved and you can now visit the Waitangi Visitor Centre and Treaty House, watch an audio-visual about the history of the area, and look at a collection of Maori artefacts. On the Reserve there is also an impressive Maori meeting house and war canoe.

Bay of Islands- Looking towards Paihia from Flagstaff
Bay of Islands- Looking towards Paihia from Flagstaff - Credit- Peter Hunt

Sailing, cruising, sea-kayaking, fishing and swimming with the dolphins are popular activities on the water, and sky diving, gliding and parasailing are avilable for those who like to be airborne.

Bay of Islands- Treaty House
Bay of Islands- Treaty House - Credit- Peter Hunt

Visit the Waitangi National Reserve and you can see the Treaty House where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, te whare runanga,the Maori meeting house built to honour the centennial of the signing of the Treaty, and another centennial project, the world's largest war canoe.

Bay of Islands- Maori Meeting House
Bay of Islands- Maori Meeting House - Credit- Peter Hunt
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