The Bay of Islands is teeming with wildlife from marine mammals to native birds.
But the Department of Conservation is encouraging locals and visitors to be wary of getting too close this summer and has a few tips to protect the animals we share the area with.
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DOC communications adviser Abi Monteith says giving wildlife their space and not feeding them helps protect New Zealand's native species.
Enjoy seals from a distance - at least 20m, the length of two buses. If you want a picture, use your zoom instead as getting too close stresses wildlife, she said.
"If you are too close they may panic and stampede, hurting themselves in the process," said Monteith.
"Some may also become aggressive, especially if you are blocking their escape route to the sea or near their babies. They can move as quickly as you can and although they look cute, they have a nasty bite."
Other tips include not sharing your picnic with birds as human food can make them sick.
Stay away from bird nesting areas, particularly roped-off or sign-posted areas on beaches which are nesting-grounds for endangered species like New Zealand dotterel.
"Avoiding these places is critical for protection of our endangered species. You need to keep your dog away as well. Not all bird nesting spots are marked, so stay alert while walking on dunes and avoid any birds you see."
Dolphins and whales need their space too.
Check out these rules: doc.govt.nz/boi-marine-mammals for operating boats or swimming near marine mammals.
They include no boats allowed within 50m of whales or 200m of female whales with calves. A maximum of three vessels is allowed within 300m of a group of dolphins.
Monteith also asks dog owners to be vigilant around wildlife.
"While your beloved furry friend might be having the time of its life, it's a different story for the birds or seals they're chasing.
"Even the best-trained dog has the potential to kill wildlife - make sure you are only taking dogs into areas where they are allowed and keep them on leashes."
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) for conservation emergencies, including whale strandings and sick, injured or dead wildlife. Visit www.doc.govt.nz for more information.
The Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu is looking forward to showcasing Northland artists' artwork, crafts, and objects during the Summer Show.
The Summer Show opens on December 21 at 11am and runs through to February 2, 2020.
It's a great chance to support local artists and to get first pick, or visit later when the show has updated after the Christmas rush, a spokesperson said.
The shop has smaller works ideal for Christmas gifts, and there will be a small vintage collection in the Great Little Room.
The gallery is open seven days from 10am-4pm.
Visit villagearts.co.nz/ or phone 09 405 5827 for more information.
Popular street theatre returns to Russell in the New Year with performances by the Hell Hole of the Pacific street theatre troupe.
There will be two performances daily on January 18 and 19 at 11.20am and 1.20pm.
A special evening performance, also open to the public, will be held at The Duke Tavern on February 15.
The Hell Hole of the Pacific street theatre troupe is looking for a few extras.
They're seeking men agile enough to leap over a bar during a fight scene and women 18 or over who are willing to become "Kororāreka strumpets".
Phone the Cris on 0275 403 837 for more information.
She's just 16 years old but a Far North teen is already holding her first solo exhibition at the Toi Box Hokianga, an art gallery in Opononi.
The exhibition of drawings, paintings and prints by Prairie Herk, of Taupō Bay, examines the way our bodies are portrayed and perceived.
Body Image opens on December 17 and runs until December 22. Hours are 10am-3pm daily. Toi Box is in a converted shipping container in the carpark in front of the Opononi i-Site.
Prairie has just completed Year 11 at Taipa Area School.
The Far North District Council has won nearly $1.4 million in tourism-related government funding with the announcement of the latest Tourism Infrastructure Fund grants.
Projects in the Far North to be funded include an upgrade to public toilets at Waipapa and Waitangi Jetty, car park enhancements at Cable Bay and Taipa Beach, outdoor shower improvements at Paihia Beach and installation of security lighting at Kerikeri Stone Store.
In addition, the final section of Pungaere Rd, which forms part of a busy tourist route to Puketi Forest, will be sealed.
The fund is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. It aims to help develop tourism-related infrastructure in regions facing pressure from tourism growth.
Christmas cheer is coming to Russell again this year at the annual Carols @ Pompallier concert.
The concert will be held at Pompallier Mission, a Heritage New Zealand property, on December 21 at 6pm.
Local groups and soloists will perform traditional festive favourites as well as modern Christmas songs as part of the show, and concert-goers have the opportunity to sing along to favourite Christmas carols.
People are invited to bring a picnic, rug and good cheer.
Pompallier Mission manager Scott Elliffe said the annual event is a great way for the community to re-connect and start the festive season.
"Pompallier Mission has the only public gardens in Russell, so it's a great opportunity for families to enjoy a very pleasant evening of festive entertainment in this beautiful historic setting."
Admission is free, though in the spirit of the season a hat will be passed around for gold coin donations to raise money for Hospice Mid Northland.
The alternative wet weather venue is Christ Church, also in Russell.
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