Waitangi Day is the perfect time to start planning your trip to some of the beautiful locations where our nation was born.

1 The Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum

As David Fisher writes, all Kiwis have a duty to visit the Treaty Grounds. And the recently refurbished museum is a stunning drawcard, telling the story of our nation's early history with aplomb.

While you're there: grab a pub lunch at legendary Duke of Marlborough over in Russell.

2 Hokianga Harbour — landing place of Kupe

There's plenty of contention about Kupe, the storied Polynesian navigator who led the first canoe to Aotearoa about 1000 years ago. He chose a glorious spot to come ashore.


While you're there: take a slide on the famous sand dunes and make a journey to Tane Mahuta. When visiting the country's greatest tree, be sure to clean your shoes and stick to the walking tracks (for information on Kauri dieback, go to kauridieback.co.nz ).

3 Gisborne

Captain James Cook first landed in New Zealand on this beautiful coastline in 1769 and his first meeting with Maori took place nearby at Te Tokaa Taiau. The meeting was of mixed success. Cook had planned to call the site of his first landing Endeavour Bay, but opted instead for Poverty Bay "because it afforded us no one thing we wanted". He was wrong — this place is rich in wonders.

While you're there: head for the famous Rere Rockslide, a 45-minute drive from Gisborne, on Wharekopae Rd.

4 Golden Bay

The first-known encounter between Europeans and Maori came 120 years before Cook's arrival—and Dutch explorer Abel Tasman had a toughertime than Cook's later experience in Poverty Bay. A skirmish in 1642, in stunning Golden Bay, left dead on both sides after a cultural misunderstanding. Today, it's one of New Zealand's most beautiful holiday spots.

While you're there: two of the Great Walks are in the region — the Abel Tasman National Park and the Heaphy Track. Put your boots on.