Hole in the rock in Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Take a day trip to explore the bay and its pretty islands from close up, capped off with a trip through the Hole in the Rock. Carved by the sea and weather, the hole is 240 feet wide, though looks a lot smaller when you're heading toward it on your day-trip boat at speed. If conditions are right, don a wetsuit and jump in to swim with the bottlenose dolphins.
Close up of a maori canoe at Waitangi Treaty Grounds in New Zealand
New Zealand became a nation here, with the signing of the Waitangi Treaty between the Maori and the British in 1840. Visit the on-site Te Kongahu Museum and the intricately carved meeting house which often has Maori cultural performances. The largest Maori ceremonial war canoe in the world is here.
Judge if the sky is really the world's second-bluest via a parasailing trip to see the Bay of Islands from above with your cruise. Can you count all 144 islands? For a more adrenaline-soaked trip (though you're aiming to land away from the water) try tandem skydiving with an instructor.
Takeaway fish and chips is the perfect thing to eat near the water — the local style is whitefish fried crispy after a dip in batter, but you may see them frying up someone's catch of the day, too. In Russell, you'll find upscale spots serving bistro fare like local Hawkes Bay lamb, Northland pork and whole snapper.
Look for New Zealand giftware like bone and jade carvings and handicrafts made from ancient kauri wood. The wood is from prehistoric trees found only on the top half of the North Island. The wood has been preserved for centuries in peat swamps and has an iridescent sheen.
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