The Bay of Islands is 240 kilometres from Auckland, a paradise of rolling hills and bays lapped by sea green crystal waters. Visitors can enjoy an array of water based activities including tall mast sailing, swimming with dolphins, sailing, windsurfing and fishing.
The famous "Cream Trip" is a day cruise among the 140 islands in the area or you can take a speed boat tour to the famous hole-in-the-rock and neighbouring inlets. The main centre is Paihia with good accommodation and a selection of cruises, including big game fishing. Across the bay by ferry is the historic township of Russell, the first capital of New Zealand which is superbly restored and retains most of its 19th century wooden buildings.
Auckland Harbour, New Zealand.
Close by is Waitangi where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in Treaty House, home of the British Resident. The nearby Maori Meeting House has carvings representing many different tribes and a 437 metre, 150 man war canoe which is launched every Waitangi Day, (February 6th).
At the northernmost tip of the North islands is Cape Reinga where a lone pohutukawa tree marks a sacred spot for Maoris. From here Ninety Mile Beach sweeps down the west coast to Kaitaia forming a spectacular beach bus trip back towards the Bay of Islands area.
Not far from Auckland is Hamilton the main centre of the Waikato region. History is recaptured at the annual Maori War Canoe Regatta held at Ngaruawahia each March. Don't miss cruising the Waikato River, the Waithomo glow worm caves and the chance to black water raft in the nearby deep underground caves.
Other special spots are Rotorua, the thermal centre, Coromandel's small beaches, Gisborne's Maori meeting houses, Cape Kidnapper's gannet colony and sparkling Lake Taupo. In the southern part of the North Island, a few miles north of Masterton is the Mount Bruce National Wild Life Centre, where rare and endangered birds are studied and bred. To the west near New Plymoth, you can can Mount Taranaki, a volcanic cone surrounded by green dairy pastures.
(Jane Resture (email@example.com -- Rev. 21st November 2008)