Bay of Islands

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This article is about the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. For the Bay of Islands in Canada, see Bay of Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador
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Russell,_new_zealand.jpg
Russell, Bay of Islands

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.

The bay 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 Manganui 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 and Moturua Island. The Purerua Peninsula extends to the west of the bay, north of Manganui Inlet, and Cape Brett Peninsula extends 10 km into the Pacific Ocean at the south-east 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 boy born in the country, Thomas King, was born in 1815 in the Bay of Islands (a European girl was reputedly born at the Dusky Sound settlement in the South Island some years earlier).

Kerikeri, Bay of Islands
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Kerikeri, Bay of Islands

The bay has many interesting historic towns including Paihia, Russell 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.

The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations in the country. The Bay Of Islands has been renowned for its big-game fishing since American author Zane Grey publicised it in the 1930s.

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