Anchored at the shores of winterless north, Northland and the Bay of Islands is a beach lover’s paradise with a subtropical climate that shines all year round. Learn about the remarkable landmarks and legends that are rooted here to make your cruise ship experience that much more meaningful.
An ancient presence and strength surrounds the mighty Tane Mahuta – New Zealand’s largest known living kauri tree estimated to be 1,250 to 2,500 years old. According to the Maori story of creation, Tane Mahuta, or Tane for short, is the son of Ranginui Sky Father and Papatuanuku Earth Mother. Also known as the Lord of the Forest, Tane Mahuta separated heaven and earth to let light into the world. Today, Tane Mahuta stands in the great Waipoua Kauri Forest as one of the oldest and largest trees in the world at 51m high. Local tourism operator Footprints Waipoua offers guided day tours and twilight encounters for an intimate and inspiring journey to meet the mighty Tane Mahuta.
Hole in the Rock
The name may not sound very spectacular but take it from us, it is. World famous in New Zealand, the Hole in the Rock on Piercy Island, or Motukokako in Te Reo M?ori, boasts a spectacular 16m-high hole at its south-western end. On a calm day, harbour cruises take you through the infamous carved hole in the rock for a day of discovery to the end of stunning Cape Brett Peninsula in the bay. Of the 144 islands that grace the sheltered, blue green waters of the winterless north, the Hole in the Rock is an iconic landmark that will wow you without doubt.
Where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collides, Cape Reinga, or Te Rerenga Wairua in Te Reo M?ori, is an enchanting place that feels like the ends of the earth. Resting at the top of Northland, the long but worthwhile journey to Cape Reinga is a remote area of spiritual significance. According to M?ori oral history, this sacred place is regarded as the gateway to the underworld. It is from a sacred pohutukawa tree at the edge of the Cape that the spirits of deceased M?ori leap into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. Amidst swirling currents, an iconic lighthouse, and panoramic views, Cape Reinga is an unforgettable destination well worth the journey.
Although just a few kms short of 90 miles (88 kilometres to be exact) is a beautiful, endless strip of sand that stretches from Ahipara to Scott Point. It marks the beginning journey for many walkers journeying along the Te Araroa Trail to traverse on foot both North and South Islands. Home to secluded, stunning beaches and world-renowned surf, Ninety-Mile Beach is also an official highway but really only suitable for 4WD vehicles or coach tours. From surfcasting for fresh kai moana (seafood) to swimming, this is an escape to blissful, beachside paradise.
Te Paki Dunes
Surfing the Te Paki sand dunes is like coming face to face with a mirage in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The shifting soft sands rise from the grassy wetlands in the most majestic way and reach up to 150 metres in height. Before the steep climb up, hire sandboards for the day for a once in a lifetime sand dunes surf. From the golden sands to the sprawling blue seas, the views from the sand dunes are out of this world. Located at the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach near the Te Paki Stream, this is a must-do stop before or after a visit to Cape Reinga.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The protected site of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds marks the birthplace of Aotearoa and is New Zealand’s most important historic site. This is where the story of two peoples coming together as one under the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi - the signing of the first accord between the British Crown and the Maori people. An award-winning experience, immerse yourself in the history and heritage of Aotearoa by spending the day exploring an authentic carved meeting house, New Zealand’s largest ceremonial war canoe (waka), the Treaty House and so much more.