Homebound – Northland and the Bay of Islands Trip

Oh how I love Northland.

It’s the region perched at the top of the North Island of New Zealand and it has a different feel to it up there, alot slower.  Interesting fact – no matter where you are in the region you’re never more than 40 kms from the coast, and where talking some seriously stunning beaches, coves and harbours.  It has greenery on masse, soft rolling hills, glorious bays, awesome seafood, the highest ratio of artists per capita in NZ, history aplenty (think NZ’s first capital and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, to name a few significant historical happenings) and a strong Maori population. Nice mix.  And it’s also an interesting mix, for in amongst all this culture and beauty and history  you will come across some rural townships a shadow of there fine former selves.  For alot of the smaller towns industry has moved on leaving behind communities in the midst of reinvention or doing the best they can.

I remember the first time I travelled there,  I felt different……more grounded, connected.

The abundance of accessibility to maori culture also makes this region an absolute delight.  Whether you partake in cultural tourist activities or drive by carvings and meeting houses (in situ) or local communities going about their business – you’ll feel it.

After christmas ma and I spent three days being charmed by Northland and the Bay of Islands (we explored just a wee slice of the region).  We stayed in Russell (which was the first capital of NZ) a gorgeous little town nestled in a stunning cluster of bays and islands.  The coast line in this part of the world is seriously beautiful.

From our base we visited and travelled through (in no particular order) Russell, Opua (the gateway to the Bay of Islands), Paihia, Waitangi, Keri Keri, Kawakawa, Moerewa, Ngawha Springs, Kaikohe, Rawene, Opononi – Hokianga Harbour.  It was so easy to drive around, heres a few pics of the trip.

There were many highlights;

eating the best fish and chips in the car at Paihia

the mud pool baths in Ngawha Springs (both hot and cold pools)

checking out the famous Frederick Hundertwasser’s toilets in Kawakawa

dinner at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell – perfect meal and setting

visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – awesome

taking the car ferry from Opua to Russell – fun

lunch at the Boatshed cafe in Rawene

eating a passionfruit icecream in Hokianga Harbour

experiencing a mirimiri session – traditional maori healing, Paihia

Kawakawa - Toilets created by Frederick Hundertwasser's = no straight lines.

seafood chowder and fish and chips at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell

View from the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, musician included. Perfect location.

Moi enjoying the muddy delights at Ngawha Pools

Ngawha Pools - Old school prices

Carving, Te Whare Runanga - Meeting house at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

hokianga harbour - sand dunes

Old Maori trading canoe, Rawene


About maree

I'm creative and curious and love writing about the fine and messy art of creating an authentic joy laden life.


  1. denise lewis

    Lovely place up far North,fun,fun fun and lovely spending time with you Ree – albiet cross roading to your ma’s grief.xx

  2. yes, the off roading was an interesting 30 minutes, wasn’t it! lol. Though the scenery was stunning :-)

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