I have taken you to Auckland and some of my favorite addresses in New Zealand’s biggest city and now it is time to move out from the urban surroundings and discover a bit of what New Zealand is certainly most known for – its lush and beautiful nature. For that we move a few driving hours north of the city to the Bay of Islands – a subtropical paradise with historical significance for New Zealand and some of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen so far!
The Bay of Islands has shaped New Zealand’s history as this was the place (namely Waitangi) where the founding treaty was signed between the indigenous Maori representatives and the European settlers and where New Zealand’s first capital Russell was founded. Today Russell is a small, dreamy village on the shores of the Bay of Islands, with a lovely beach, two fine restaurants and lots of nature. And even though this seems like there’s not a lot to do in Russell, think twice: the bounty of nature is more than an invitation to go and explore!
The easiest way to explore the vast Bay of Islands is on one of the cruise ships. Most cruise ships take their passengers on a big roundtrip throughout the bay, often accompanied by dolphins, and the highlight being a visit of the famous Hole in the Rock – if currents allow the boats take you through the hole for that inevitable pirate feeling. Later the boat takes course to one of the many islands where a barbecue is offered – another Kiwi tradition. Sit on the lawn, relax and eat. And feel a bit like a Kiwi.
But it’s not only the organized cruise trips that make a visit to the Bay of Islands interesting. You can visit the treaty grounds in Waitangi, explore the surroundings by foot – many times you will find small paths through the bush taking you to other settlements and beaches.
For me personally there was another highlight: Staying at Kereru Cottage run by a wonderful local couple. You are literally living with them in their beautiful little house surrounded with a lush garden – its fruits being part of the delicious breakfast. I am still thinking of the sweet passionfruit from their garden served for breakfast! And it got me dreaming of having such a wonderful garden myself. Someday. Somewhere.
Photography by Igor Josifovic