The Bay of Islands draws thousands of visitors each year to its beautiful waters, sandy beaches and lush forests. This New Zealand enclave encompasses more than 140 subtropical islands next to the country's North Island.
Start at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and museum, the birthplace of the nation. Step back in time to what is unquestionably one of New Zealand's premier attractions. Learn about the signing of the Treaty and enjoy cultural performances by the Maori people. As you journey through the expansive grounds, with spectacular views over the Bay of Islands, you'll walk in the footsteps of the people who changed history. Discover the momentous events that shaped this nation at the state-of-the-art Museum of Waitangi.
Be sure to have your camera ready to capture photos of the breathtaking Haruru, Rainbow and Wharepuke Falls as you make your way around the bay. At Haruru you will find a typical block waterfall, Haruru Falls located in a hidden valley on the beautiful and peaceful Waitangi River. At Rainbow Falls, an easy walk leads to the waterfalls lookout and to the falls base. Last but not least, this exquisite waterfall, Wharepoke Falls, also known as Wharepuke Falls, is found on the Kerikeri River. Sadly, it's quite often overlooked due to an extremely popular neighbor, Rainbow Falls, but this will be completely worth the visit!
In Kerikeri you can stand at the Stone Store and Kemp House, two of the area's oldest buildings and peek into the historic, wooden St. James Church. Two of New Zealand's oldest buildings are situated in the Kerikeri Basin. Kemp House and the Stone Store are the only survivors from the Church Missionary Society's second Anglican mission to New Zealand, founded in 1819 on land granted to the Reverend Samuel Marsden by the powerful Nga Puhi chief, Hongi Hika. Kemp House is the oldest surviving European building in New Zealand. The Stone Store is the country's oldest surviving stone building. St. James Church was established from the mission station at Kerikeri in 1819, church services were held regularly in rooms made available, or in the open air. The worship room was called "the whare karakia." In 1823 the first church/school was built behind the Stone Store.
Pay a visit to Rewa Village, a full-scale replica of a pre-European Maori fishing village where you will learn the rich heritage and traditions of these proud people. This full-scale reconstruction of a Maori village recaptures the atmosphere of the average kainga in pre-European times. Traditionally each sub-tribe built a pa (fortified village) on a hilltop or some other easily defended position. In contrast, the kainga (unfortified village) was a temporary arrangement built close to the kumara fields or to other sources of food. In times of peace most would live in the kainga, but in times of danger would desert the kainga for the greater safety of the more permanent pa.
From there you will enjoy a scenic ride to Kerikeri vineyards, the foundation of the country's burgeoning wine industry. Take time to stroll through the grounds and check out the wine cellars as your guide shares the area's winemaking history extending back into the 1700s with the first planting by Reverend Samuel Marsden. While here, sample delicious Chardonnays, Pinot Gris, Viogniers and more. You can also choose to enjoy a sumptuous lunch at one of the wineries (at your own expense) before your return trip to the port. With this private, 6-hour tour you will have the flexibility to dial in your time at each site according to your personal preferences, book now not to miss out!