First people arrived already to New Zealand more than 1000 years ago. They were Polynesian from Hawaiki Islands. Their leader was Puku. He gave to discovered land name "Aotearoa" - Land of Long White Cloud". Puku landed right hare at Bay of Islands area. The cost lays on eastern site of North Island. He did not stay here but return to his homeland. 400 years later Maori followed Puku's direction and landed with seven canoes here. The settlements of both main islands has started.
Mr. Abel Tasman was the first European sailing in New Zealand's waters. He considered the islands as a part of Australia so he glimpsed just a little bit at only west coast. It was captain James Cook who exactly explored northern and southern islands in 1769 and who really walk on land. First white settlements were in area of Bay of Islands. It was James Cook who named the area. Treaty from Waitangi was also signed on 6th February 1840 here. There are over 144 little islands, small pretty beaches separated with forested little hills.
The oldest "Stone Store" served as store and was built in 1836. The house is in a little town of Kerikeri. I stayed here a little bit longer. The oldest wooden church is situated in a little town of Russell.
Best hiking trails in Bay of Islands area are around Cape Brett and in Te Toroa Scenic Res.. I have done my first hike in New Zealand here. Cubby beaches without people provoked to swim. Unfortunately December in 2004 was the coldest and rainy in past 40 years.