10 Best Historical Places in Northland© NZPocketGuide.com
10 Best Historical Places in Northland

10 Best Historical Places in Northland

© NZPocketGuide.com
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Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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Historical Places in the Bay of Islands, Hokianga and Beyond

New Zealand‘s human history starts in the Northland region, from the very first Māori explorer, Kupe, who first set foot on New Zealand at the Hokianga Harbour to the first European settlements in the Bay of Islands. Both New Zealanders and internationals can learn about the origins of New Zealand society today through a wealth of historical sites set in awe-inspiring landscapes. See what historical places in Northland you can’t miss in the list below!

Note that there is an admission fee to access and tour many of the heritage buildings listed below. However, there is still a good selection of free attractions, such as Cape Brett, Maori pā sites, and the Rangihoua Heritage Park.

1. Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Walk among the very grounds where the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Māori chiefs and the British Crown on 6 February 1840, which you can learn all about in the innovative Museum of Waitangi. There is also a carved meeting house (whare), a waka house, the Treaty House, bush walks and more to discover, as listed in The Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Visitor Tips & 5 Reasons to Visit.

Location: Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi, Bay of Islands.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Ruapekapeka Pā

Not only will you see the remains of a Māori pā site (fortified village), but you’ll also stand at the site where the final battle of the New Zealand Wars in the North took place! Wars were fought between the northern Māori and British colonials during 1845-46 over conflicting interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi. The defences of Ruapekapeka Pā are still evident today with ditches, bank defences and even a cannon used by Chief Kawiti.

Location: Ruapekapeka Road, Towai – off State Highway 1 south of Kawakawa.

10 Historical Places in Northland You Can't Miss© NZPocketGuide.com

3. The Stone Store and Kemp House

Standing in the picturesque setting of the Kerikeri River, The Stone Store and Kemp House carry stories of when the first Europeans and Māori lived together. The Stone Store has been trading since 1836. What used to sell building supplies for early settlers now sells a selection of gifts. Upstairs in the Stone Store is an interactive museum. Tours of the Kemp House, New Zealand’s oldest surviving house, run from the Stone Store. Find out more things to do nearby in the 15 Best Things to Do in Kerikeri.

Location: 246 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Kororipo Pā

This once-fortified fortress of the famed Māori chief, Hongi Hika, provides a historic walk in Kerikeri. Situated opposite the Stone Store and Kemp House (see above), Kororipo Pā has a short walk with interpretation panels telling the history of Māori and European trading. There’s also a viewing platform for some amazing photo opportunities.

Location: Opposite the Stone Store on the banks of the Kerikeri River, 246 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri.

Northland Inc© Northland Inc

5. Pompallier Mission and Printery

Situated on the waterfront of New Zealand’s first capital, Russell, the Pompallier Mission and Printery is New Zealand’s oldest industrial building and only surviving printery. From the Pompallier Mission, French Marist missionaries promoted Catholicism to the Māori. They used the printery to print religious texts in the Māori language and distribute them to the Māori settlements in the Northland region.

Location: 5 The Strand, Russell.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Cape Brett

Otherwise known as Rakamangamanga, Cape Brett has been moving boats safely to the Bay of Islands for centuries, from the earliest waka to the European ships. The Cape Brett Lighthouse has stood at the end of Rakamangamanga for more than 100 years and is still in use today. Cape Brett can be seen from either an 8-hour one-way hiking track or via cruises with Explore NZ departing from Paihia and Russell.

Location: 30 km (19 mi) northeast of Russell in the Bay of Islands.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Mangungu Mission

The site of the largest Treaty of Waitangi signing is on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour at the Mangungu Mission. The Mangungu Mission was built in 1839 and is still furnished with authentic relics from the time, including the very table where more than 70 Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. Check out more places to discover on the Hokianga Harbour in the 10 Best Things to Do in Opononi & Omapere (Hokianga).

Location: 107 Motukiore Road, 3 km (2 mi) from Horeke, Hokianga Harbour.

Ulrich Lange on Wikipedia© Ulrich Lange on Wikipedia

8. Rangihoua Heritage Park

On the stunning shores of the Bay of Islands, Rangihoua Heritage Park is the site of New Zealand’s first planned European settlement. Here, Europeans and Māori lived side-by-side through an agreement with Chief Ruatara and Reverend Samuel Marsden. Walkways in the Rangihoua Heritage Park, taking 1-hour return, lead to lookouts over pā sites and lead down to the old mission settlement where the Marsden Cross memorial marks the place where the first Christmas service in New Zealand was held in 1814.

Location: Oihi Road, off Rangihoua Road, 30 km (19 mi) north of Kerikeri.

 D Pons on Flickr© D Pons on Flickr

9. Te Waimate Mission

Visit New Zealand’s first farm and walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, who spent Christmas of 1835 in this English farm and mission station. Te Waimate Mission‘s house and farm were built to teach British farming techniques and Western ideals to the local Māori. Learn about it all on the archaeological trail around the property.

Location: 344 Te Ahu Ahu Road, Waimate North.

 Phillip Capper on Flickr© Phillip Capper on Flickr

10. Clendon House

Delve into the stories of an early colonial family at the Clendon House. This stylish home was built in 1860 for James Reddy Clendon and his Māori wife, Jane. However, when James died in 1872, Jane was left to raise eight children while trading her way out of the debt that her husband left behind.

Location: 14 Parnell Street, Rawene.

10 Best Historical Places in Northland© David Kirkland - Northland Inc

More About Northland

That’s it for our list of the best historical places in Northland. For a dose of natural history, be sure to explore the 10 Best Kauri Forests in Northland. Otherwise, these guides are also pretty insightful:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in the 10 Best Museums in New Zealand!


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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