Summer means hopping in the car with friends and family, packing the chilly bin and heading to the coast.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover the stories of our past, encounter incredible places and discover the rich culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. Our heritage is brimming with summer fun waiting to be discovered, and Auckland is a perfect location to get started.
Just a three-hour drive from Auckland lies the coastal playground of the Bay of Islands. Here you’ll find some of the country’s most significant heritage minutes away from stunning beaches, luscious rain forests and water activities aplenty.
On this road trip you will visit locations of cultural significance intertwined with art, heritage, local produce and other attractions. Get your passport to history and go on your own journey of discovery, exploring the interconnections and stories of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and other, properties.
Day one - Take time to explore Auckland
Cosmopolitan Auckland is full of heritage gems. Discover the stories and secrets of Auckland's heritage in the heart of the city. You’ll be captivated by grand Alberton and Highwic, examples of early colonial houses, and charmed by kauri-constructed Ewelme Cottage with its eclectic collection, including almost 2,000 books and unique sheet music. You won’t be able to visit them all in one day but you can get a taste and come back for more!
When you’re ready to sit back and relax, head to the Melanesian Mission at Mission Bay to enjoy seaside views paired with a contemporary eatery.
Day two - Head north to Russell
Head north to Russell making sure you stop to enjoy the stunning scenery and mouthwatering food and wine experiences along the way. Summer is the perfect season to enjoy roadside stalls selling fresh produce like real fruit ice creams and local seafood, or visit one of the many farmers markets to stock-up for a picnic.
Once at Russell, head to the French-style printery and tannery Pompallier Mission. Just a five-minute stroll from the Russell wharf the property, built in 1842, is situated in a picturesque waterfront location combining significant Māori and Pākehā history with wonderful gardens and hands-on activities. Pompallier Mission is the perfect place to enjoy the day with fabulous food and refreshments from its café.
Day three - Learn about Māori culture
Make your way to Paihia, an excellent base to explore the rest of your destination from. It boasts an extensive range of accommodation, delicious dining options and plenty of beaches and coves to explore.
Go on a journey of discovery at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant heritage sites, an easy 25-minute walk (or five-minute drive). It was here, on 6 February 1840, that Te Tiriti o Waitangi was first signed.
Today the grounds give you the chance to discover Māori culture, experience powerful performances and admire storytelling through art, history and culture.
Day four - Discover iconic Kerikeri
Jump in the car for just over 20 minutes and head to Kerikeri where you’ll dip into more history, browse local art and enjoy local produce.
You’ll discover two locations rich in early Māori and Pākehā history. Only a short drive apart, Kerikeri Mission Station and Te Waimate Mission tell the story of when the first Pākehā visitors were invited to live among local iwi.
Situated five minutes from central Kerikeri, and along a picturesque river, sits Kerikeri Mission Station. At its heart are two of the country’s oldest buildings, the Stone Store and Kemp House. Guided tours run daily and fill up fast, so be sure you book ahead. While you’re there stop in to the Honey House Café before taking a scenic 20 minute drive to Te Waimate Mission.
This country’s second oldest building, Te Waimate Mission features missionary, farming and architectural history.
Day five - All good things must come to an end
Whether you’ve stayed in Paihia or Kerikeri, you’re going to do some travelling today, but with stunning scenery we’re sure you won’t mind.
First stop is Clendon House, the fascinating home of Captain James Reddy Clendon, ship owner and trader. Clendon, the first United States consul in Aotearoa New Zealand, was a witness to the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Once you’ve enjoyed the story of Clendon and his incredible wife, Jane, take a drive to your last destination.
Māngungu Mission looks out over the beautiful Hokianga Harbour, a serene scene in juxtaposition to the sometimes turbulent history of the area. The largest signing of Te Tiriti took place here on 12 February 1840 with over 70 chiefs adding their signatures.
With so many heritage places to visit while in Northland these are just a few suggestions. Please make sure you check the Places to visit section for opening hours and times. Enjoy your summer of wonder. Stay tuned for more history-inspired itineraries that will take you across Aotearoa New Zealand.