"Huge Kauri Forests, Endless Beaches and History" Top 5 Page for this destination Northland by Kakapo2

Northland Travel Guide: 722 reviews and 1,597 photos

Colourful Highlights and Expensive Houses

When I think of Northland my first thought are the huge kauri forests which are just a tiny fraction of how they have been before the arrival of humans. But they are still magic.

I think of the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of the country at the end of an endless beach, called 90 Mile Beach although it is "only" about 90 kilometres long.

I think of the treeless eroded landscapes on the way up there, destroyed by humans, Maori hunters and later gum diggers.

I think of the red ribbon of flowering pohutukawas seaming white beaches and blue waters.

I think of the wonder world of the Bay of Islands, a sunken paradise, discovered by people who have had enough of cold winters in other parts of the world, and by the rich. House prices are at the upper end of the scale.

I think of friends living up there on a hill, overlooking this world of islands, and enjoying the mild climate. I think of the appealing remoteness of the country which makes travelling so relaxing.

Wonderful Loneliness and a Lot of Rain

After our last visit in the middle of winter 2006 I thought for a short time about how it would be to live up there in the north. The days were magic, with T-shirt weather and sunshine, and those orchards and mandarine and orange plantations everywhere, and my friend reminded me that the humid climate keeps the skin young longer LOL

Well, this year (2007) when big parts of Northland were flooded after heavy rainfall I thought this would probably be too much moisture not only for my skin ;-) Our friends had to spend the night with friends because the road to their safe house on a hill was impassable, somewhere else a bridge over the main highway was washed away and left tourists stranded, so many houses were flooded and destroyed. That is Northland's face I do not like. I like the lush green landscapes but I do not like the lot of rain that keeps them so green.

Also the remoteness I find so attractive has a downside. You might have to drive very far or even fly to purchase special things. I enjoy very much that we do not live in the city but know that it is close for the case I need something, and if I do not need anything I can forget about it.

But I love this contrast, living here in Canterbury in those ochre tussock grass landscapes and take a flight and land in this jungle-like green north with those fantastic tree ferns and kauri and pohutukawa. And, of course, I would not mind to have a holiday home there. We have just not won lotto yet.

The Place where the Future once Began

Finally, Northland is the birthplace of modern New Zealand as we know it now. On a visit to Waitangi you learn everything about the treaty that the Brits and the Maori once signed - and perhaps not everything about how the cheating started. The latter leaves us until today with the need of a tribunal that has to sit over land claims of Maori tribes.

Even if you travel on the main tourist roads you see shockingly run down Maori properties and poverty. It is a huge contrast to the South Island with its small Maori population and an eye-opener - especially if you have spent some time in the Bay of Islands with its spectacular villas and mansions, fine dining restaurants and yachts.

Northland is a classical stronghold of Maori, as are the East Cape and Rotorua. Here you can look behind the folkloristic touch you get to know when you attend Maori shows, just by travelling with your eyes wide open. Maori in the Far North are a lot less well organised and funded than in the south, but, of course, not everything is caused by the Treaty of Waitangi from 1840. As the Ngai Tahu tribe in the south shows you can do a lot for your people than leave them with drugs and crime.

As modern history began in Northland you will find a lot more historic places:

Russell, the first capital - I must always smile when I think of it because somehow I enjoy the stories about Maori chief Hone Heke who repeatedly chopped the British flag pole, I probably would do it today LOL

New Zealand's oldest buildings in Kerikeri

Matauri Bay where they put to rest the Rainbow Warrior

There are some great places and museums to visit on rainy days. Probably you will get some during your trip ;-)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Mild climate, loneliness and fantastic trees
  • Cons:Too much rain and floodings
  • In a nutshell:A Green Paradise when the Sun Shines
  • Last visit to Northland: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 27, 2007
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Reviews (24)

Comments (3)

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2008 at 2:46 AM

    Wow, what a fantastic page!!! So informative, it certainly looks and sounds a beautiful area. Thanks.

  • tissie's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2008 at 7:34 PM

    We took the night walk on our first visit to NZ in 1999 and did hear the kiwi call. We managed to see a kiwi in the wild when we went on a guided walk from Ohakune. It was one of those always to remember experiences.

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2007 at 4:40 PM

    Hi Sissi, Wonderful page, just what I want for our 3 day stopover in July, Kiwi gave me your page, Thank you to you both.

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