This pristine natural harbour consists of 144 islands, ranging in size from large establishments to tiny rocky outcrops.
The water is calm and clear all year round, making this a popular spot for swimming, diving, kayaking, fishing and boating. There’s also a strong art, music and creative scene – fuelled by a forward-thinking and innovative community of laid-back locals.
It’s also one of the best places in the country to learn about Maori history and culture – as Waitangi was the location of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, just around the corner from tourist hot-spot, Paihia.
History lovers will be fascinated by the village of Russell, a short ferry ride from Paihia. It’s now a charming bay-side town, but it was known in the 19th century as the “Hellhole of the Pacific” due to the hedonistic antics of its population of escaped convicts from Australia.
From history to wildlife, beaches to cafes, boat cruises to wineries, the ‘Birthplace of New Zealand’ has a lot to enjoy. Whether you visit on a weekend getaway from Auckland, or take a little bit longer to explore, you’ll fall in love with these sun-soaked Northern islands.
(Pictured: the quaint town of Kerikeri, 30 minutes inland from Paihia).