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.
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.
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.