The Prime Minister may not be going to Waitangi this weekend - but if you are, here are five walks to give you a sense of the area's historic significance

1. Paihia to Waitangi

Walk to where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Get there by turning left at the Paihia Visitors' Centre, then walk along the coastline for about 45 to 60 minutes. At the northern end of the beach, you'll spot Te Tii Marae on the left.

Waka line up at Te Tii Beach ahead of Waitangi Day. Photo / John Stone
Waka line up at Te Tii Beach ahead of Waitangi Day. Photo / John Stone

Te Tii Bay is also Paihia's most popular recreational beach, so there's plenty to see and do along the way.

2. Haruru Falls

Take the walking track from Waitangi on the Haruru Falls - it takes about 1.5 hours to complete, but is sheltered by bush, follows the Waitangi River and ends with a beautiful waterfall. The path includes a boardwalk through mangrove forests.

The Haruru Falls is a great reward at the end of a long walk. Photo / Kenny Rodger
The Haruru Falls is a great reward at the end of a long walk. Photo / Kenny Rodger

Haruru Falls was New Zealand's first river port and originally housed a small Maori settlement, with nine kaianga (villages) between Haruru and Waitangi.

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Read more: Paihia: Kayaks and kicks

3. Waitangi Forest

This walk (or mountain bike ride) is about 20km from Kerikeri to Paihia and goes through a private forest. The track begins at Kerikeri Inlet Rd and follows Te Wairoa Rd to Wairoa Bay near Paihia. The trail follows an old Maori route which linked the settlements of Okura and Paihia.

Along the way you'll pass through the Waitangi Endowment Forest, a conservation estate originally gifted to the country by Governor General Lord Bledisloe in 1936. Although it's mostly level, the trail has a few big hills.

4. Flagstaff Hill (Maiki Hill)

This historic hill overlooks the Bay of Islands. Six flagstaffs flying the Union Jack were erected here between 1840 and 1913 and the first four were cut down by Hone Heke - sparking the Northland Wars.

The view of Russell from Flagstaff Hill (Maiki Hill). Photo / Supplied
The view of Russell from Flagstaff Hill (Maiki Hill). Photo / Supplied

It has since been named a historic reserve and is under the care of the Department of Conservation. To get there, follow the walking track from the boat ramp on the Strand in Russell. Today, the flagstaff flies the flag of the Maori Confederation of Tribes.

It's also possible to see kiwi here if you head out around dusk, when they're waking up for the night.

Read more: Making great strides in the Bay of Islands

5. Opua Forest Lookout

This walk through wetlands and regenerating forest takes about 1.5 hours as a return journey, with spectacular views of Waitangi, the Bay of Islands and Russell.

Peter Hirzell of Paihia is responsible for upgrading the popular Opua Forest Lookout Track. Photo / Sue Ferens
Peter Hirzell of Paihia is responsible for upgrading the popular Opua Forest Lookout Track. Photo / Sue Ferens

Start the track at far end of School Rd in Paihia - around 700m from the township. If you're feeling ambitious, carry on for a further two hours on Oromahoe Road Traverse, which joins on to the lookout track.

- nzherald.co.nz