Bay of Islands: 233km (144 miles) N of Auckland; Cape Reinga: 440km (273 miles) N of Auckland
Within the Ipipiri/Bay of Islands’ natural harbor, there are around 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. The most touristy spot in Northland, the subtropical shores here are basically just one big swimming pool. If it’s summer, you’ll want to spend much of your time in the warm blue waters diving, fishing, dolphin-watching, sailing, or lying on a gorgeous beach just about anywhere in the region. However, that’s not all there is to see here: This is also where you can visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, a historic site that every visitor wanting to understand modern NZ should visit.
The remote Far North region requires a greater time investment, but it’s where you can drive along 90-Mile Beach; slide down the massive Te Paki Sand Dunes; and visit Cape Rēinga, the point at which Māori spirits access the underworld. Finally, Hokianga on the Kauri Coast is where you’ll find the ancient giant kauri trees including Tāne Mahuta or “God of the Forest.” It’s also home to a new interactive museum celebrating Kupe, the Polynesian explorer who discovered NZ.