If ever an area in any country could be described by a single word it would have to be the Bay of Islands in Northland, New Zealand and the only word for it is magical.

Of all the holiday spots I’ve been to around Aotearoa this surely is the one place that rolls together all that is good about New Zealand.
To say that it’s one of our great tourism spots puts people like me in a difficult position because, whenever you do it, people start forcing you into silly comparisons … is it as ‘great’ as Queenstown or the Hawkes Bay? And what about Taupo or the Nelson Bays?

For me, quite simply, the Bay of Islands is in a class of its own. I hate being cornered into comparisons and that’s why I prefer the word magical when it comes to quantifying this relatively remote part of New Zealand becasue it’s a place of such contrast. There’s poverty here and great beauty too.

Over the years I’ve experienced the Bay of Islands as both a tourist and a resident so I’ve probably been more exposed than many to its inside secrets.

This is a place of opportunity for travellers of all types.

If it’s a remote cottage you’re looking for this is the place. If you want a five star luxury stay you can find it here or a farm stay. And then, what about a tranquil spot to camp by a waterfall or if you fancy a little adrenaline action … try this

From Paihia to Kerikeri and Opua to Russell you can find a huge range of places to stay and ways to be entertained along the way.

Although the temperatures are more moderate, the scenic beauty of the Bay of Islands easily ranks with many European holiday destinations but it doesn’t have the balmy heat of Indonesia or that pure tropical beauty of places like say Yasawa Island in Fiji.

In weather terms, there are moments here when days can be dull and overcast. When you live here, you can fall into a trap of taking your surroundings for granted. Then, suddenly, you experience a moment of unexpected peace. A warmth in the air somehow combines with a beautiful aromatic scent from nearby bush. You look out across the water and all you see is a mirror surface right out to the Nine Pin … from Paihia, just a tiny shark’s tooth of an island in the distance.

In moments like these you may find yourself gasping for a quick breath because the impact is nothing short of absolutely stunning.

And then there are those understated moments with family and friends – the times you find yourself sitting on the deck out back having a beer as the sun goes down. You make a move and spill some food scraps and your friend says, ah don’t worry mate, the birds will get it.”

With that you sit back and think, probably right, why worry – then a fully grown weka trots out of the nearby bush and gobbles it all up right before your eyes!

You turn and see a half smile on your mate’s face and all he can say is, “bloody birds. They’re everywhere.”