In Russell

Russell is a veritable minefield of historic sites. This is where the great Maori chief Hone Heke burned everything except the mission property, and chopped down the flagstaff (four times) in defiance of British rule. If you plan to wander the historic sites, first visit the Russell Museum, 2 York St. (tel./fax 09/403-7701;, open daily from 10am to 4pm (until 5pm in summer), closed December 25. Admission is NZ$7.50 for adults and NZ$2 for children. You can learn all about Maori-European contact and pick up heritage brochures pointing out other sites in the village. Behind the museum, check out the Bay of Islands Maritime Park Headquarters and Visitors Centre, The Strand (tel. 09/403-7685; fax 09/403-7649). Its free 15-minute audiovisual The Land is Enduring gives an overview of Maori-European history in the area. It's open from 8:30am to 4:30pm (until 5pm in summer).

Farther down The Strand, you'll find Pompallier Mission (tel. 09/403-9015; Built in 1841, this is New Zealand's oldest surviving Roman Catholic building. It housed a printing press used from 1842 to 1849 to print religious documents in the Maori language. Today, along with the press, there's a working tannery and bookbindery. Admission is NZ$10 for adults and free for accompanied children, students over 15 pay NZ$6. Prebooked tours cost NZ$7 per person. It?s open from 10am to 4pm (until 5pm in summer).

For a look at the oldest wooden church in New Zealand, go to Christ Church, Church Street and Robertson Road. You can't miss the dear little building surrounded by colorful flowering hibiscus bushes. It's open daily from 9am to 5pm.

In Kerikeri

The pretty town of Kerikeri has the most to offer in the Bay of Islands in the way of land-based attractions. Visiting the Kerikeri Mission Station, 246 Kerikeri Rd. (tel. 0800/802-010 in NZ, or 09/407-9236; or, is essential if you want to continue the historic theme. It’s home to New Zealand’s oldest stone building, the 1835 Stone Store, which has been open for business since 1836. Next door you’ll see Kemp House, the first mission house and the oldest wooden house in the country. Entry to the ground floor of the store is free and you can shop for authentic heritage goods reminiscent of the store’s golden era. You may opt for the full "Mission Experience," which includes an overview of the area’s important early history, admission to the upstairs section of the Stone Store, and a tour of Kemp House; it costs NZ$10 per person and accompanied children ages 5 to 15 visit free. It’s open daily, 10am to 5pm November through April and until 4pm the rest of the year. Northern Steamship Company (tel. 0800/944-785 in NZ, or 09/407-9229; offers 1-hour cruises of Kerikeri Inlet aboard SS Eliza Hobson, departing from the Stone Store Sunday through Friday at 2pm. The cost is NZ$30 for adults, NZ$15 for children ages 5 to 15, and NZ$85 for families.

Above the Basin is the well-preserved Kororipo Pa, a fort occupied by the fearsome chief Hongi Hika; across the river from the pa site is Rewa’s Village (tel. 9/407-6454), a full-scale reconstruction of a kainga (fortified pre-European Maori fishing village). It’s open daily 9am to 5pm (until 4pm in winter); admission is NZ$5 for adults and NZ$1 for children.

Garden enthusiasts will appreciate Wharepuke Subtropical Garden, 190 Kerikeri Rd., Stone Store Hill (tel. 09/407-8933;, which is a growing "art gallery" of subtropical plants. It’s open daily 8:30am to 6pm. Entry to the gardens and art gallery is free, but you need to make an appointment for the interactive subtropical garden tours and art courses. There is also a very good cafe here, which is open daily at 10am for lunch and from 5:30 to 10pm for dinner.

Kerikeri is also home to a thriving arts community. Pick up the excellent free brochure The Kerikeri Art & Craft Trail, which details 17 excellent outlets within a few kilometers of Kerikeri. Keriblue Ceramics, 560 Kerikeri Rd. (tel. 09/407-1111;, is especially fine. It’s open 9am to 5pm daily. Directly opposite is the Kauri Workshop (tel. 09/407-9196;, where you can watch Brian Cliffin making swamp kauri bowls.

You haven’t lived until you’ve savored the unspeakably indulgent pleasures of Makana Confections (tel. 09/407-6800;, right beside the Kauri Workshop. The hand-dipped chocolates are indescribable—try them yourself at the tasting bar and watch the whole process through glass windows; it’s open daily 9am to 5:30pm. A much wider variety of top-quality Northland produce is showcased at the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market, beside Take Note Bookshop, Hobson Avenue, Kerikeri (, which is held rain or shine every Sunday from 8:30am to noon.

To sample Northland wines, head for Cottle Hill Winery, 28 Cottle Hill Dr. (tel. 09/407-5203;, open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 5pm with tastings for NZ$5; Marsden Estate Winery, 56 Wiroa Rd. (tel. 09/407-9398;, open daily 10am to 5pm (till 4pm in winter), closed Good Friday, and December 25 and 26; or Bishops Wood Estate, 1329 St. Hwy. 10 (tel. 09/407-9628;, open daily 10am until late.

For fine New Zealand-made skin-care products, free of all synthetic preservatives or synthetic parabens, check out the highly successful Living Nature, State Highway 10 (tel. 0508/548-464 in NZ, or 09/407-7895;

In the Far North

In the Taipa area, Matthews Vintage Collection, 4365 State Highway 10, 5km (3 miles) north of Taipa (tel. 09/406-0203;, has an extensive array of restored vintage cars, tractors, and farm and domestic equipment. Admission is NZ$10 adults, NZ$5 children ages 5 to 15 years. Far North Regional Museum, 6 South Rd., Kaitaia (tel. 09/408-1403;, showcases the story of Maori and Dalmation settlement, and the history of the kauri gum industry. They have a terrific photographic collection and some beautiful Maori taonga (treasures).

The Ancient Kauri Kingdom, State Highway 1, Awanui (tel./fax 09/406-7172;, is 7km (4 1/3 miles) north of Kaitaia. You can view massive 30,000- to 50,000-year-old kauri logs that have been hauled from the Northland swamps, then see the fine furniture and crafts that are made from them. It’s open daily, and admission is free. You can also see the remnants of ancient buried kauri forests, over 42,000 years old, at Gumdiggers Buried Forest Park, Heath Road, Waiharara (tel. 09/406-7166; It’s 25km (16 miles) north of Kaitaia and is open daily. It will also give you an insight into the tough lives of the early gum-digging pioneers.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.