I felt I would be doing an injustice to New Zealand if I headed south from Auckland before checking out the north. I went to Paihia (Bay of Islands) for a few days after more than my fill of Auckland.
Paihia is a small, seaside town that is a good take off point to see the far north as well as ocean sights. I decided I needed to go to the top of the bottom of the earth. The easiest way to do that is to book a tour (especially if you don’t have a car of your own).
There other things to see around the town as well.
First there is the treaty grounds. Waitangi Treaty Grounds is where you can learn about the history, Maori culture, and treaty that essentially formed New Zealand as a country. I’ve said it before on my blog, I really feel like you can’t get to know a country if you don’t know the history of it. Waitangi Treaty Grounds is just the place to learn about that cultural history of New Zealand.
There is also a hike through the surrounding forest to Haruru Waterfall. This was about a 3 hour hike. It was really nice scenery walking through the forest and passing over streams. At the end of the trail you get the payoff of the waterfall. It didn’t look too high or particularly powerful but it was really nice and the hike in general was a great way to spend the afternoon.
There is plenty more you can see in the Bay of Islands area. Dolphin cruises are really popular along with the tour of Cape Reinga and the 90 Mile Beach that I did. Of course I couldn’t do everything with the time I had but it really was a great 3 days in the Far North. I would recommend making sure you head north to Paihia before exploring south of Auckland.