Stop off at picturesque Matakana, just 45 mins north of Auckland, known for its superb wineries and boutique food shops. The lively Saturday farmers' market showcases locally-grown produce and delicacies and there are plenty of cellar doors and eateries in the area. Matakana is also close to a myriad of stunning east coast beaches and there’s a range of places to stay including luxury lodges and stunning beach houses if you decide to venture no further.
Play in the Bay – a short break really isn’t long enough in the Bay of Islands, there’s so much to see and do. Getting out on the water is a must and there are plenty of options from sailing a tall ship and daily boat cruises to kayaking. There are more than 150 islands in the Bay and lots of sheltered coves and empty beaches to explore. It’s New Zealand’s most popular maritime adventure playground with an abundance of wildlife so expect to see penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and all sorts of other species.
- Flying in to Kerikeri? Then check out Marsden Estate just beyond the end of the runway – local’s call it the ‘Kerikeri Airport Lounge’ – and it’s a great spot to sample the best of locally produced food and wine in a very picturesque setting
- The Landing – a secluded, 1000-acre coastal estate at the northern mouth of the Bay of Islands with its own micro climate and powerful wine story. Missionary Reverend Samuel Marsden recognised the viticulture qualities of this land back in 1819 and The Landing’s vineyard sits alongside the site of New Zealand’s first European settlement. Today you can stay in luxury on the estate and enjoy wines with a unique flavour matched by the opportunity to experience an intriguing piece of New Zealand’s pioneering history
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum of Waitangi – birthplace of the nation. A memorable cultural experience, historic buildings and beautiful grounds with expansive views across the Bay
- The charming, historic seaside settlement of Russell – a short ferry ride from Paihia and the first capital of New Zealand. Enjoy local wines and dine at the Duke of Marlborough granted the first liquor licence in New Zealand. Pay a visit to Paroa Bay Winery and Omata Estate Vineyard and Kitchen while you’re there
- A day trip to the hole in the rock, stopping off at Urupukapuka Island – walk to the lookout or relax on a beanbag at the beachside cafe
- Take a riverside walk in historic Kerikeri where Kemp House and the Stone Store, two of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, still stand. It’s also the site where the first grapes were planted in New Zealand over 200 years ago
Drive time Auckland to the Bay of Islands approximately 3 hours, or fly to Kerikeri (50 mins), hire a car and drive to Paihia (45 mins).