The Bay of Islands is an area in the Northland region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located close to the northern tip of the country.
The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations in the country.
The bay itself is an irregular 10 mile wide inlet in the north-eastern coast of the island. It is a natural harbour, and has several arms which extend into the land, notably Waikare Inlet in the south and Kerikeri and Te Puna 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.
Opua is a locality in the Bay of Islands. It is notable as the first port for overseas yachts arriving in the country after crossing the Pacific Ocean. In the original 1870s plans for the town, it was named Newport.
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 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.