Many places in Northland hold historic significance. The birthplace of New Zealand, Waitangi is home to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840.
Northland History Overview
Northland is thought to be the first part of New Zealand to be discovered and walked upon by the early Māori settlers. Later European settlers began to arrive and colonise the land.
A treaty between the Māori and the Europeans was signed some years later in Waitangi, and Northland became known as the 'birthplace of a nation'.
Approximately 1,000 years ago, the legendary Māori explorer, Kupe discovered New Zealand. It is claimed that the first landfall of Kupe's waka (or canoe) was on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour.
In 1769 Captain Cook discovered New Zealand. Once news of the discovery reached Britain, traders, whalers and sealers began to arrive.
In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and signed by representatives of the Crown and representatives of the Māori iwi and hapu.
Waitangi, the birthplace of a nation
At the Treaty House in Waitangi, Māori and European leaders signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6th February, 1840. It was also signed in other locations around the country in the following months, but is known as the Treaty of Waitangi because it was first signed there. The treaty was an exchange of promises and still serves as the founding document for the nation of New Zealand.
The Treaty House stands proudly amidst a vast, peaceful park. Also of interest on the site is a fully carved Māori Meeting House, one of the largest remaining Māori war canoes and a superb visitor centre and gallery. Waitangi is a place that all New Zealanders belong to—it's a 'must see' for any visitor interested in New Zealand's history and culture.
The headwaters of the Hokianga Harbour are framed by spectacular giant (300 metres) sand dunes—an amazing place to swim, fish, explore or go sand dune surfing. Further up the harbour is Rawene, New Zealand's third oldest European settlement and the home of historic Clendon house. The recently completed mangrove walk makes a great stroll.
Many small picturesque villages dot the Hokianga, including the old logging town of Kohukohu, and the twin settlements of Omapere and Opononi (made famous in 1955 - 1956 by Opo the dolphin).
Useful Northland Links
To help plan your Northland holiday choose from the main categories below:
- Northland Accommodation
- Northland Tours
- Northland Attractions and Activities
- Northland Transport
- Northland Cuisine and Dining
- Northland Shopping
- Northland Visitor Information
Northland Region Information
Key information and facts about the Northland region.
Major activities and attractions in the Northland region.