The sun-filled Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand's top tourist draws, an area of beautiful sandy beaches and calm waters ideal for sailing and swimming.
Many base themselves in or close to Paihia, the main town, or in the nearby township of Russell, where whalers, merchants and escaped convicts once gathered.
Today, it's far more genteel, a place to wander around historic buildings or take a dolphin-watching cruise out at sea. Nearby are the orange, kiwi fruit and avocado orchards of Kerikeri, as well as wineries, craft shops and plenty of outdoor cafes.
Another local highlight is the Treaty House at Waitangi, near Paihia. This marks the site at which representatives of the Crown and a number of Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 02 February 1840. The fact that not all Maori tribes signed the treaty ensures that it remains a contentious topic even now.
A Maori war canoe and a carved meeting house can both be seen on the estate, and Maori performances take place several times each day.