Things to do in Kerikeri
Kerikeri is the gateway to the Far North. The town is known for its part in early New Zealand history, eclectic art galleries, fruit orchards and thriving food scene. Rich in stories and culture, the wider region is home to tranquil native forests, spectacular uncrowded beaches and the idyllic Bay of Islands. It’s also the birthplace of the nation. At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds you can tread in the footsteps of those who changed history and experience the excitement of authentic Maori cultural performances.
Catch a ferry from Paihia to the historic township of Russell or cruise out into the bay to explore uninhabited sanctuary islands, including the hole in the rock at Cape Brett.
In 1814, local Maori invited Reverend Samuel Marsden to established New Zealand’s first mission station in the Bay of Islands, then in 1819 he established a second station nearby at the Kerikeri Basin. Two of New Zealand’s oldest surviving buildings remain on the Kerikeri site today – Kemp House, built in 1822, and the Stone Store, completed for the missionaries in 1836. Today, both are open to the public and cared for by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
The native forest reserves of Northland are legendary. West of Kerikeri, you’ll find rare native birds and impressive stands of trees in the Puketi and Omahuta Forests. Walks range from an easy 10 minutes to overnight adventures. A favourite with visitors and families, the Manginangina Kauri Walk is a 15-minute track with towering kauri trees and informative panels. A 90 minute drive to the west, near the historic Hokianga Harbour, Waipoua Forest is home to several easy walks through ancient forests. One trail leads to the largest known living kauri tree, Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), standing 51.2m tall with a truly impressive 13.77m trunk girth.
Kerikeri is right beside the world-famous Bay of Islands. From Paihia you can catch a ferry to the historic township of Russell or cruise out into the bay to explore uninhabited sanctuary islands, including the hole in the rock at Cape Brett. Choose a fast modern catamaran, go dolphin watching or sail on a tall ship. If a holiday on the water is your thing, you can charter a yacht from Opua.
Wherever you go in Northland, you’re never far from a beautiful uncrowded beach. The east coast beaches are more sheltered and safer for swimming, while the wild west coast beaches are ideal for long walks and sunset picnics. Matauri Bay, just north of Kerikeri, is a magnificent sheltered sandy beach that’s popular with locals. Further north, at seaside communities like Taupo Bay and Coopers Beach, you can rent a holiday home to surf, swim, sunbathe and fish.
More than 1000 years ago, Maori settlers arrived in Northland by ocean-going canoe, established communities and prospered. In 1840, at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, a group of about 40 Maori chiefs were the first to sign a treaty with the British government. It was to become the founding document for the new nation Aotearoa/New Zealand. At the grounds where the treaty was signed you’ll discover a high-quality museum, spectacular carved meeting house and a huge ceremonial war canoe.