Bay of Islands
One of the country’s top destinations and a must if you’re heading north of Auckland in summer, the Bay of Islands features turquoise waters, 144 islands and islets, beautiful beaches, big-game fishing, yachting, boating, diving and wildlife viewing among other activities.
While the bay covers a huge area, you’ll want to stay in either Paihia or Russell, two small towns linked by a 10-minute ferry ride, and ensure to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the treaty between Māori and the British Crown was first signed in 1840. The treaty remains a key in Māori-Pakeha relations and Waitangi Day Celebrations on February 6 each year are viewed as New Zealand Day.
The mid-August Bay of Islands Jazz & Blues Festival is another great time to be in the area.