The Bay of Islands is an area in the Northland Region of the North Island of
New Zealand. Located 60 km north-west of Whangarei, it is close to the
northern tip of the country.
It is one of the most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations in
the country, and has been renowned internationally for its big-game fishing
since American author Zane Grey publicised it in the 1930s.
The bay itself is an irregular 16 km-wide inlet in the north-eastern coast
of the island. A natural harbour, it has several arms which extend into the
land, notably Waikare Inlet in the south and Kerikeri and Te Puna (Mangonui)
inlets in the north-west. The small town of Russell is located at the end of
a short peninsula that extends into the bay from the southeast. Several
islands lie to the north of this peninsula, notably Urupukapuka Island to
the east and Moturoa Island to the north. The Purerua Peninsula extends to
the west of the bay, north of Te Puna Inlet, and Cape Brett Peninsula
extends 10 km into the Pacific Ocean at the eastern end of the bay.
The first European to visit the area was Captain Cook, who named the region
in 1769. The Bay of Islands was the first area in New Zealand to be settled
by Europeans. Whalers arrived towards the end of the 18th century, while the
first missionaries settled in 1814. The first full-blooded European child
recorded as being born in the country, Thomas King, was born in 1815 at Oihi
Bay in the Bay of Islands. (There have been unsubstantiated claims that a
European girl was born earlier at the Dusky Sound settlement in the South
The bay has many interesting historic towns including Paihia, Russell,
Waitangi and Kerikeri. Russell, formerly known as Kororareka, was the first
permanent European settlement in New Zealand, and dates from the early 1800s
Kerikeri contains many historic sites from the earliest European colonial
settlement in the country. These include the Mission House, also called Kemp
House, which is the oldest wooden structure still standing in New Zealand.
The Stone Store, a former storehouse, is the oldest stone building in New
Zealand, construction having begun on 19 April 1832.
In a 2006 study, the Bay of Islands was found to have the second bluest sky
in the world, after Rio de Janeiro.
The Cream Trip
In 1886, Albert Ernest Fuller launched the "Undine" sailing ship in the Bay
of Islands to deliver coal supplies to the islands within the Bay. With the
fitting of a motor in the early 1900s, Fuller was able to deliver the coal
and essential supplies to communities as far out as Cape Brett.
In 1927 Fuller acquired the "Cream Trip" from Eddie Lane - with the facilities on board to transport cream from the islands, and by the 1960s, the newly commissioned "Bay Belle" started this run. Although a modern catamaran now takes this historical route of the original The Cream Trip, the Bay Belle continues to transport visitors and locals between Paihia and Russell throughout the day.