Historic Waitangi

Discover Historic Bay of Islands and Northland

New Zealand is still a very new country, especially when you consider many of us have ancestral roots in Britain, Ireland, and Europe that are steeped in history.

Northland holds the lion’s share of New Zealand’s history where Europeans first began setting up home in our beautiful land, and much of the oldest buildings and significant events happened in this area.

For any history buff, Northland will not disappoint as all historical sites and landmarks are a scenic drive away from each other. Most of our customers choose to pick up a rental vehicle from Kerikeri airport, with our map in hand, ready to explore.

Here are our top suggestions for your next historical adventure. For more Northland must visits, check out our destinations page.

Kerikeri Mission Station
The Kerikeri Mission Station is one of the first places where Maori invited visitors to live among them. Fierce warriors, drunken sailors and, missionaries trying to convert the masses make for some great storytelling from those working at The Stone Store and Kemp House – part of the station grounds.

Christ Church, Russell
As the oldest church in New Zealand, this charming little church sits in the beautiful Bay of Islands’ township of Russell. See if you can spot the musket and cannon ball holes in the side of the church from battles between Maori and British forces from 1845.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
With rave reviews on Tripadvisor, this is a must see when visiting the Bay of Islands. This is New Zealand’s most important historic site where in 1840 New Zealand’s founding document was signed and the relationship between Maori and European settlers began. The ground includes an excellent museum, guided tours, and a cultural performance. There are also Hāngi & Concert evenings during the Summer months.

Rangihoua Heritage Park
The Marsden Cross memorial recognises New Zealand’s first Christmas led by Reverend Marsden back in 1814. You could say this was the first real community of Maori and Europeans living peacefully together. Not far from Kerikeri, the park offers sweeping views of the Bay of Islands. To download a brochure of other Northland landmarks, click here.

Tane Mahuta and the Hokianga
Northland’s Waipoua Forest is home to the famous kauri tree, Tane Mahuta.
It’s big. Very big. An estimated 1,250 and 2,500 years old it’s certainly a humbling experience as you try to take in the sheer size of this thing! Visiting the forest is a great day out for the family, with Tane Mahuta just a short walk from the forest car park and lots of New Zealand native birds, flora and fauna to watch out for when travelling along the forest paths.

Cape Reinga
The lighthouse alongside the famous world signpost offers ample photo opportunities and spectacular views. As Cape Reinga is a sacred site, eating is not permitted, but if you’re looking for a place to stop on the way, head to Waitiki Landing which is 50 minutes from the Cape. Tours to Cape Reinga

The Kauri Museum
Just 90 minutes North of Auckland is the Kauri Museum, Northland’s largest undercover attraction covering 4500m2 of undercover exhibits. Here you can find stories and facts based regarding the impressive kauri tree, and the history of early settlers and the harsh challenges they faced.

Need a rental car for your trip around historical Northland? Far North Rentals offers high-quality and reliable rental vehicles, 24/7 roadside assistance and competitive rates. Check out what our customers have to say!

Arriving in the Bay of Islands on a Cruise Ship or simply looking for a tour?  Our associate company Mullarkeys Tours offers short 1, 2 and 4 hour tours. They visit places like the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves, Kawakawa, Kerikeri, the Puketi Forest and Haruru Falls.

Opua Beach

Northland Winter Getaways

Northland Winter Getaway
Always drawing a large crowd over the summer months, Northland is also a great destination for winter getaways.

As one of the warmest regions in the country it’s no wonder Northland is known as the ‘winterless North’, and though there are a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy, there is lots to do if you do experience some rain.

The Bay of Islands offers a relaxed lifestyle but still has all the everyday amenities close at hand. Surrounded by 144 islands the region has first class seafood, wines, fruit and vegetables for keen foodies!

Cosy fires, hearty food, and beautiful rugged scenery are what we love about the winter months. Wrap up and walk along a wild, empty Northland beach one afternoon is sure to blow those cobwebs out and build an appetite. Fishing charters operate year-round, so if you want to venture into subtropical waters there is lots of sea life and great visibility to be had.

Visit historical Russell by ferry from Paihia, wander along a beach before dining at a waterfront restaurant, finishing off your day with a nightcap at the Duke of Marlborough. Not too bad!

 Our people movers and vans are a great way for groups to move between the seven music venues without the hassle of finding carparks or trying to coordinate a place to meet-up. Air NZ offer great flights direct to Kerikeri Airport where we will have a vehicle ready and waiting for you.

So why not escape for an extended weekend? Take advantage of our new winter rates now!


Bay of Islands Adventures

Bay of Islands Cruises & Land Tours

Surrounded by hundreds of islands and white sand beaches it is hardly surprising the Bay of Islands has fantastic tours centred around these clear waters. You will find yourself in it, above and looking down on it, or floating on the top of it.

The best way to explore the area is from one of our many rental vehicles. Flying or mooring into the Bay of Islands with a vehicle waiting for your arrival makes for a very easy and stress-free holiday. It is the perfect way for getting your bearings and taking in this amazingly scenic area. Kerikeri, Russell, Waitangi, Opua, and Paihia are all within easy reach of each other and with your own transport, there’s the opportunity to revisit any sights or beautiful coastal towns in more depth if you wish.

Here are a few Bay of Island tours and cruises to get your itinerary underway.

Island Adventure Cruises

This Qualmark Endorsed Visitor Activity is a small boat designed to moor up on the beach and manoeuvre it’s way around the more remote islands in the area. With just 34 seats on the vessel, you aren’t struggling to catch a great view of the Bay of Islands.

Fullers Great Sights – The Cream Trip

This tour has been operating since 1927 and is still a “must do” for locals and visitors. Almost a hundred years ago now, Mr Albert Fuller delivered supplies to people around the Bay of Islands, when visitors started to accompany him along for the ride. Deliveries are still made on this tour as well as sighting and swimming with dolphins, going through the famous Hole in the Rock and boom-netting. What’s boom-netting you ask? Watch the video and see how much fun you can have!
Best of all, Far North Rentals can offer you a 10% discount on six of the most popular Fullers Tours, including The Cream Trip, all at the click of a button.

Bay of Islands Late Afternoon Cruise

Enjoy a two-hour cruise at this gorgeous time of the day (4-6pm). Includes a glass of wine and finger food while learning about the local history and perhaps spot a few bottle-noised dolphins. This is ideal for those who don’t want to face the heat of the day, and a lovely adventure just before dinner.

Dive Tutukaka

If you are visiting New Zealand and love diving and sea life, then you can’t leave without a trip to The Poor Knights Islands, where you will encounter the best sub-tropical diving in the world. As a marine reserve, there is ample sea life to see and the balmy water will make it hard to leave.

Horse Trek’n

Only 5 minutes from Paihia animal lovers can ride and swim with their horse, wander through the Waitangi Forest plus there are 10 minute rides for little ones as well. The guides are fluent in English, German, Cantonese and French, making this an ideal choice for cruise ship patrons.

Bay of Islands Trike Tour

For a bucket list experience here is one you can tick off! Up to 3 people can be picked up in Paihia and blast around on a 350 Chev Trike with your guide. There are 3 tour options available, ranging from 30 to 60-minute rides.
Bookme.co.nz offers discounts on local tours and cruises. The best part is your booking is confirmed as soon as you make payment. There’s no fussing about with buying online then having to phone the company to see what dates are available, making it easier to organise your holiday.

See our range of quality vehicles with our 0% breakdown record since Far North Rentals began!

Please see our preferred partner Mullarkeys Tours for shore based tours in the Bay of Islands.

Cycle Trail

The New Zealand Tourism Boom

The tourism industry in New Zealand is booming with the export of services reaching new record highs.

According to data published by Statistics New Zealand total tourism spend in 2018 amounted to $39.6 billion or some 10.2% of GDP. Cruise Ship activity continues to grow with some 150,000 passengers visiting the Bay of Islands in the 2018/19 season.

According to Figure.nz the value of exports of services from New Zealand means the travel sector leaves all other industries for dust. There is also a strong commitment from the new government to tourism by naming Kelvin Davis (born and bred in the Bay of Islands) the new Tourism minister, he is third in the cabinet.

As an English speaking country with outstanding food, wine and scenery and many tourists getting a lot of ‘bang for their buck’, it’s no wonder New Zealand is experiencing such growth. Tourism New Zealand states approximately 80 million people actively thinking about a New Zealand holiday each year with the majority coming from Australia, China and The United States.

Air New Zealand wins ‘Best Airline’ awards over and over, Auckland continuously ranking high as one of the top cities to live in, Grammy-winning singers and a thriving film industry. Coverage like this all go towards making New Zealand a pretty hip place in the eyes of the world.

Though the housing market seems to have cooled of late, Northland is experiencing a substantial upturn in house prices, in the past 12 months in particular. Whether these are bought as a second home to rent out, or city-dwellers moving into the area permanently is currently unknown.

Tauranga is booming as well. How do we know? Well, Uber has moved into town and that’s a sure way of knowing your growth is on ‘the up’. The Bay of Plenty’s reliable warm weather, glorious beaches, and thriving cafe and restaurant culture offers a well-balanced lifestyle.

We feel a large part of New Zealand’s tourism success stems from locals being a friendly bunch who offer a thrilling experience and genuine customer service. Our history shows we are open to change and like to ‘get amongst it’. Bungy jumping, skiing, cycling, and a watersport or two. Nice one New Zealand.

If you are looking for a reliable car for your stay in New Zealand, see our fleet of rental vehicles and check out our Facebook reviews for instant peace of mind.

Guide Bay of Islands Cruise Ship

Your Guide to Entering the Bay of Islands by Cruise Ship, Plane or Car

Guide to the Bay of Islands. Regardless of where in the world you live, flying or docking into New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is a truly impressive sight. Surrounded by 144 islands, quaint seaside towns, and white sandy beaches, the Bay of Islands has a way of instantly relaxing people and reassures them, yes, coming here was an excellent idea!
Approximately 64 cruise ships will enter the Bay of Islands this season. The majority of cruise ships dock at Waitangi Wharf, where the famous treaty was signed between the British Crown and Maori Chiefs back in 1840.

Your cruise operator will then transport you to Paihia (the largest Bay of Islands township), only a few kilometres away. Paihia offers all the amenities you need and the perfect starting point for visiting Kerikeri, Russell, Opua, Waitangi and the outer islands.

If you’re entering New Zealand from an overseas flight, Auckland (New Zealand’s largest city) offers four connecting flights to Kerikeri every week day. Some travellers choose to weave their way North by rental car to the Bay of Islands, while other prefer to fly straight there taking the short 50-minute flight. Either way, Far North Rentals will happily have a rental car waiting for you at Auckland or Kerikeri Airport so you can start your holiday the easy way.

Expansion to the Bay of Islands Marina at Opua over recent years was great news for local boaties, accommodating thousands of holidaymakers from December to March, New Zealand’s summer season. Berths are available for both short and long term leasing. Every possible marine service is within walking distance from the marina, including WIFI, postal services, riggers, boat builders, refrigeration, catamaran haul-out, pump out facilities, fuel dock, cafe – even a hairdresser. And there’s plenty more besides.

If you’re an international cruiser, perhaps sailing from Australia or the Pacific Islands – welcome! The immigration information found here will put you in the right place.

Being in, on and close to water is part of New Zealand’s lifestyle and charm. If it’s your first time here, rest assure the services, car hire, accommodation, and restaurants in the beautiful Bay of Islands will make your stay enjoyable and certainly one to remember.

If you are a cruise ship passenger looking for shore based tours around the Bay of Islands then we suggest that you check those being offered by our associate company, Bay of Islands Shuttles and Tours.  They have a wide range of tours available for cruise ship passengers landing in the Bay of Islands.

See Far North Rentals range of reliable, fully serviced rental vehicles at fantastic prices.

Cycle Trail

Twin Coast Cycle Trail

The Twin Coast Cycle Trail is the Far North’s most recent tourist attraction.

It runs for 87 kms from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Horeke in the Hokianga Harbour.

The trail is “one way” and can be ridden in either direction.  It is divided into 4 sections:

Opua to Kawakawa (11 kms) Grade 1

Kawakawa to Kaikohe (34 kms) Grade 1 – 2

Kaikohe to Okaihau (14 kms) Grade 1 -2

Okaihau to Horeke (28 kms) Grade 2 – 3

Starting from the Opua end, the trail initially follows the route of a disused railway line as it heads towards Kawakawa and passes through a tunnel, across bridges and alongside the estuary. From Taumarere, about 4 kms from Kawakawa, the trail shares the track with a heritage train line – the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway.

Entering Kawakawa you ride for a short section through the middle of the township on State Highway 1. Stop for a few minutes and view the world famous Hundertwasser toilets.

The trail leaves Kawakawa from behind the railway station and continues past Moerewa and on to Otiria, climbing gently. You will pass old industrial areas and farmland as you head to Otiria which has beautiful waterfalls and impressive suspension bridges. Prior to Kaikohe is Kaikohe Aerodrome which was built by the Americans during the Second World War and used to boast scheduled air services to Auckland. Kaikohe is the highest point on the trail and the main town of the mid north.  There are supermarkets, accommodation and cafes here. Kaikohe is roughly the mid point of the trail.

The trail between Kaikohe and Okaihau is again over a disused railway line. The feature of this part of the trail is an 80 metre long curved railway tunnel. The trail then descends towards Lake Omapere, the largest lake in Northland.

Okaihau to Horeke is the most remote part of the trail.  On this section you will initially ride beside the road and then head steeply down a series of hairpins to the Utakura Valley. Here you ride alongside swiftly flowing streams, across a ford and beside the river. After this is probably the most spectacular section – a 1 km board walk ride through the mangrove estuary.  The last 3 kms are shared with the road as you finish towards Horeke and the Mangungu Mission House. Please also be aware the cell phone coverage can be very patchy on this section of the trail.

Transport on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Far North Rentals is able to offer transport for you and your bike at any point on the Cycle Trail through our associate company Twin Coast Cycle Transport.  Please contact them for all your transport needs.



northland chocolate

A Chocolate Lovers Tour of Northland

We’ve found another great reason to visit Northland and its nothing to do with sunny days, beautiful beaches, exquisite wine, excellent golf or amazing scenery. Nope. We are in fact referring to chocolate.

If you are serious about your chocolate then it’s time to head North and INDULGE! We’re not sure why, but chocolate is a big thing North of Auckland with around five noteworthy chocolatiers between Kaukapakapa and Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. That’s some serious chocolate eating people which equate to a chocolate factory nearly every 42 kilometres travelled!

All along we thought it was the relaxed lifestyle and warmer weather that made Northland folk so happy, but it might just be the feel-good chemicals in chocolate that’s to blame. With over 300 naturally-occurring chemicals, chocolate has phenylethylamine (sometimes referred to as the “love drug”), and serotonin (a natural mood lifter). These cause alertness, excitement, a quickening of the pulse and happiness, all very similar to the effects experienced with ‘new love’. So, if you or someone you know adores good chocolate these two chemicals will have a lot to do with that obsession.

A weekend with girlfriends in the beautiful Bay of Islands where you can sight see, browse the markets, chill out on a beach, eat, drink and be merry sounds like a marvellous idea doesn’t it? Rent one of our vans or people movers from Auckland, Whangarei or Kerikeri and enjoy a few quality days together.

Now down to business with a list for chocolate lovers from Warkworth, heading North.

Chocolate Brown – Warkworth

Award-Winning Chocolates where you can even watch their chocolatiers at work. Chocolate Brown also make their own fudge, licorice, and New Zealand favourites, rocky road and hokey pokey.

Swiss Bliss – Waitoki (Kaukapakapa)

Swiss Bliss has a tiny shop where the chocolates are made but you can also buy online or see them regularly at the Matakana Village Farmers Market. They are proud to use all organic or certified organic ingredients in their products.

Bennetts of Mangawhai – Mangawhai

Locally grown ingredients with the help of local staff and suppliers help make up the award winning Bennetts Chocolate brand.

Makana Confectionary – Kerikeri

Makana offers gift-quality confections including a sugar-free range. Made from top ingredients, these taste sensations do not have artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives.

Newport – Russell

Each chocolate piece is made by hand using all natural ingredients. Newport also has hampers and cigars which you can order online.

This resurgence of chocolatiers proves there is a strong demand for quality cocoa-based products in New Zealand. Quality ingredients not full of sugar and artificial flavourings, and a real pride shows through in this handmade craft.

See our Hot Deals for specials on vehicle when renting for 3+ days.

far north winter getaways

Northland Winter Getaways

Always drawing a large crowd over the summer months, Northland is also a great destination for winter getaways.

As one of the warmest regions in the country it’s no wonder Northland is known as the ‘winterless North’, and though there are a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy, you will have no problem finding many things to do, even if you do experience some rain.

Accommodation is in abundance as well – from Whangarei to Kaitaia and all those scenic spots in between. Best of all, visitors can save a lot as businesses offer reduced rates and have a greater chance of offering you a vacancy should you choose to head away at the last minute.

Many local and overseas travelers base themselves in the Bay of Islands for a few days and with good reason too. The Bay of Islands offers a very relaxed holiday lifestyle but still has all the everyday amenities close at hand. Surrounded by 144 islands which enjoy a balmy climate, this region has first class seafood, wines, fruit and vegetables making it a foodie’s paradise.

Cosy fires, hearty food, and beautiful rugged scenery are just some of the elements we all love about the winter months. Wrap up and want walk along a wild, empty Northland beach one afternoon is sure to blow those cobwebs out and build an appetite.

Northland is a good mixture of adventure and relaxation. Historical Russell is a romantic settlement town which is easily reached from Paihia via hourly people or car ferries. A walk along one of the beaches before dining at a waterfront restaurant, finishing off your day with a nightcap at the Duke of Marlborough. Not too bad at all!

The Jazz and Blues Festival is on again this August (11-13 August) bringing thousands of people to the Bay of Islands for the weekend so be sure to book your accommodation and rental vehicle now to avoid disappointment. Our people movers and vans are a great way for groups looking to move between the seven music venues without the hassle of finding several carparks and trying to coordinate a place to meet-up. Air New Zealand offer great deals to visitors flying into Kerikeri Airport where we will have a vehicle ready and waiting for you. Less hassle, more fun.

Fishing charters, scenic cruises, and diving courses operate year round, so if you want to venture out in these subtropical waters there is still lots of sea life and great visibility to be had.

So why not escape for an extended weekend? Join our mailing list and take advantage of our new winter rates.

northland autumn jazz

What’s Happening In The Far North This Autumn

So often when people choose a quieter way of life, be it moving into retirement or moving to a rural town, they worry that their new change of pace won’t be exciting enough. However, more times than not they find new friends and experiences and are left wondering how they ever had time to work!

Whether you are planning to move North or wondering how to spend a much-deserved break with family and friends over Autumn, there is always some wonderful art, theatre, food and music events to get wrapped up in.

Our vans and people movers are a brilliant way to experience a fun and memorable road trip with friends while sharing the driving and fuel costs at the same time. Better still, you can take advantage of winter rates even before winter! From May onwards our car and van rentals are significantly reduced until December 17th. Email us today for a rate card.

There is some great drama hitting Whangarei this May, with these two in particular. Roger Hall’s comedy, Four Flat Whites in Italy‘ returns from a sell-out season last year to Whangarei 23 May. And ‘Gloria’s Handbag‘ (29 May) which enjoyed great reviews from the Dominion Post and Threatreview when the play first featured in Wellington.

Northland has its fair share of tribute bands from April until the end of June with Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones Experience, John Denver and Queen all celebrating the music of these genres.

If Jazz or country are more to your taste, The Topp Twins are performing in Kerikeri, Paihia, Whangarei, Dargaville and Kaitaia in late April with Sunday Jazz at the Whangarei golf club on 7th May. A great day on the course followed by dinner and entertainment at the club to round off an enjoyable day. Hire a Far North Rentals 12 seater van and ‘shout’ the designated driver dinner for the evening!

Perhaps watching people exercise sounds easier than actually doing it? The Northland Aerobics Championships are held in Whangarei this year with clubs, coaches, athletes and supporters from around New Zealand competing for the title.

Markets are always very popular in Northland, which is just as well since there are so many of them! Book fairs, community markets, food, and craft markets are to be found in Paihia, Kerikeri, Mangonui, Whangarei on a regular basis offering excellent food, locally grown produce, good strong coffee and locally made soaps and other gifts.

Between Auckland and Northland, there is a fantastic road trip for art enthusiasts to experience. Grab some friends and would-be artists and discover any one of the 20+ galleries starting in Matakana travelling to the far north of Doubtless Bay.

Artists love the relaxed, nature-focused surroundings found in Northland and this results in lots of beautiful pieces on offer. Ceramics, paintings, sculptures, prints and multi-media works of art can be found in most galleries.

We offer 24/7 AA roadside assistance with all of our vehicles, easy drop-off and pick-up locations (you can find us at Kerikeri Airport!), unlimited kilometres in Northland, and discounts start from 2+ days of car hire, making it even easier to enjoy our region.

best northland nz road trips

Best Autumn Road Trips In The Far North For Over 50s

Travelling in your 50s has a lot of advantages over other times of your life. The wisdom of age, a bit more cash in your pocket, still able to take on lots of adrenaline activities and you’ve probably learned a thing or two about what a decent bottle of wine tastes like.

At the risk of stereotyping, most 50+ travellers are looking for a mix of lazy afternoons. a chance to wander, shop, and take it all in. It’s more relaxing knowing you have booked the major things ahead of time, such as accommodation and your rental car – the rest you are happy to leave alone and see where fate takes you.

Here are our top picks for a memorable Autumn break in the Far North.

Go Bush

For a sheltered, laid back walk – the Northland’s West Coast gives you the Waipoua Forest.

Here you will walk amongst giants as this forest is home to some of the largest kauri trees in the world, including the famous Tane Mahuta, “Lord of the Forest”. You can see lots of native birdlife as well in this beautiful tranquil area.

Looking for something more vigorous? The walk to the Haruru Falls in the Bay of Islands is around 6km long and starts and ends from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

You are never far away from a loaf of artisan bread, a good strong coffee, the freshest seafood or an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand’s North. Between Mangawhai and Kaitaia (and that’s quite a distance) this region is littered with farmers markets, festivals, restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and orchards selling their fresh produce on the roadside.

The Bay of Islands is particularly flush with food and wine, and a lot of great accommodation options to support it. Kerikeri, Paihia, Russell and Opua are an easy drive from each other. If you arrive in the Bay of Islands by boat, cruise ship or plane the most convenient option is to arrange for your car hire pickup from Kerikeri Airport. The majority of our customers book this way which saves a lot of time fussing about trying to organise your holiday. And because we have lived in the area for a long time, we are sure to have answers to any of your questions.

Golfer’s Delight

Autumn’s mild climate was a huge bonus to avid golfers. Northland has around 24 golf courses from Whangaparaoa to Kaitaia in the Far North. If golf is a real passion of yours, see our golfing blog giving you a bigger picture of what to expect.

Take a Dip

The Bay of Islands has a sub-tropical climate so swimming, diving, and fishing from the Paihia Wharf are all realistic options at the time of year. This area is home to hundreds of tours and Far North Rentals can offer you six of the best at a discounted rate, just by booking through our website.

Autumn is a spectacular time of year to come Northward too. The days are still warm and relatively long, accommodation costs are reduced after the heady rush of summer and the scenery is starting to turn to brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds.

Northland is what you may consider ‘an easy place to holiday’. Rich in history, nature, food, tours and sightseeing – it is easy to experience quality with anything and everything you do here. Some of the most beautiful islands in world, pro golf courses, 5-star accommodation, plus a great climate which produces excellent food and wine. Northland is a win-win destination.

Why not organise a group of you to make it even more memorable (we have car hires and van hires suitable for any group!). With so many options and interests covered, there is something for everyone here in the Far North!