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The Bay of Islands is the best seaside destination in New Zealand by far, with its 144 pristine islands and romantic secluded coves, it draws visitors from far and wide. The Bay is teaming with marine life including marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins and may other species.
The beauty of the region has been a magnet for visitors since it was first sighted by Captain Cook. It attracts sailing yachts on world cruises, international sports fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts. It makes the ideal destination for a campervan hire holiday because of the unspoilt natural beauty and the laid back atmosphere.
Below we examine some of the local towns and what you can expect to find there.
Considered to be the jewel of the bay of islands this seaside town is an ideal launching pad for adventures in the Bay. The town offers a variety of accommodation and activities to suit most tastes. It is easily accessible in a motorhome rental and provides a wealth of services and nearby attractions.
Several cruise operators can be easily found here including the Tall Ship adventure cruise, wreck diving or swimming with dolphins. There are also quicker ways to get out on the water either on a jet ski or kayak.
While strolling around the town's shops you can stop at one of the many excellent restaurants, cafes and bars. The town also provides easy access to the Waitangi National Reserve, historically significant sites, safe beaches and walking tracks. However many prefer to simply relax on the beach and take in the natural beauty of the Bay.
Accommodation ranges across the full spectrum from luxury hotels and resorts, to motels and campsites and even backpackers are catered for. Campervan rentals are welcome at the local campsites however you will most likely be too busy visiting the surrounding areas to spend too much time here.
Early European settlement in the region faced difficulty from the lack of beach access and lack of roads. However eventually after the second world war a road was built and Paihia quickly became the most popular seaside resort in the north.
This town is considered to be the birthplace of the nation. Events which took place here were intended to bind all the people of New Zealand together in a common union. In 1932 the site at which the treaty was signed was handed back to the Nation by Lord and Lady Bledisloe. Standing on the site today the Treaty House is a fully carved Maori meeting house which is set on 56 hectares of stunningly beautiful native vegetation. The site can be reached easily in a campervan rental by heading north from Paihia.
Opua is the place where overseas yachts first arrive in New Zealand after crossing the South Pacific Ocean. It is something of a boaties paradise with many charter boats operating in the area and using Opua Port as a launch point. A car ferry takes vehicles to Okiato and the road to Russell. There is also a scenic walking path that starts in Opua and ends in Paihia taking approximately three hours. Exploring Opua is a great way to whet your appetite before taking one of our campervan rentals across to visit the historic town of Russell.
Life in Opua is mainly centred around the Port, Marina and Wharf and there are a surprising number of boat services which make it an ideal place to work on your boat. The 240 berth marina provides docking for local and overseas vessels and the town is being progressively developed as the premier maritime servicing centre of the region.
While settlement at Russell was never officially planned the combination of fresh food, water and safe anchorage in the Bay meant that it could not escape its destiny. For the sailors who stopped off at Russell after months at sea there were two priorities : Rum and Women. Fights, abduction and murder saw its reputation grow as "The devil's playground" and "The Hell Hole of the Pacific". In 1840 Russell was declared the first capital of New Zealand, but one short year later the capital moved to Auckland.
Russell is a long way from its violent past and is now and elegant and charming seaside township with a major focus on tourism, fishing and cottage industries. There are many historic sites in Russell including a Catholic Mission Building and New Zealand's oldest church "Christ Church" which still has the bullet holes from early Maori conflicts. The museum and heritage trails give visitors a comprehensive overview of the interesting history of the place. You can choose to join a guided tour group or choose to travel at your own pace in the comfort of your campervan hire vehicle.
[ Travel Destinations ]