Bay of Islands Facts
- The aptly named Bay of Islands constitutes one of the most beautiful geological marvels of its region. The sheer variety and scope of natural beauty found here ranks as one of the key reasons for this fact.
- That’s because this one bay holds a total of 144 separate and distinct islands within it. Due to the shape of the individual islands, many of them also possess their own peninsulas and inlets. Imagine the beauty.
- The Maori originally colonized the various islands in the bay approximately 700 years ago. The principal tribes involved in the colonization of the Bay were the Ngapuhi iwi and the Ngati Miru.
- The first known European to see the bay was James Cook, in 1769. Furthermore, this location was the first site settled by Europeans. Whalers arrived at the end of the 18th century, followed by missionaries in 1814.
Bay of Islands Physical Description
The stunning Bay of Islands consists of an irregular-shaped drowned valley system and also holds a natural harbor. The Bay covers a total area of approximately 100.4 sq m (260 sq km) and holds a total of 144 islands. The islands of Kerikeri, Te Puna, and Waikare Inlet comprise the three largest islands in the bay.
The region also includes a vast number of naturally formed inlets and peninsulas. The waters of the bay also rank as the second bluest in the world, according to many.
Many of the islands also contain beaches of golden colored sand and an abundance of lush vegetation. In addition, the waters of the region contain vast quantities of numerous species of marine life.
The bay remains separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Purerua Peninsula and Cape Brett. The Purerua Peninsula shields the northwestern section of the bay, while Cape Brett shields the eastern side. This cape extends 6.2 mi (10 km) into the ocean.
Bay of Islands History and Ecology
Two Maori tribes originally settled the numerous islands, roughly 700 years ago. The Ngapuhi iwi and the Ngati Miru quickly spread throughout the region, settling many of the islands. Captain James Cook was the first known European to locate the site, in 1769.
He was followed later by whalers around the turn of the century, and missionaries in 1814. The bay eventually became the site of the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand, which was a site called Russell.
Many of the original Maori settlements played key roles in the development of the country. Okiato eventually became the first capital of New Zealand, due to the role it played in the early days of the region.
The region remains famous for its incredible beauty and has become a popular tourist destination. Due to publicity provided in the 1930s by author Zane Grey, the region became famous for its big-game fishing. The region also serves as a popular destination for sailing enthusiasts and numerous other tourist activities.