'round & about the Bay of Islands

Autumn is the best time to visit Bay of Islands


Kerikeri Stone Store Basin – at its best when crowds have departed

The children are well and truly back at school.  The best of the summer weather may have waned, but then so have the crowds and the queues. New Zealand’s Far North enjoys a sub tropical climate where even the Autumn and Winter months mean that we have many sunny days, and the temperatures are in the mid teens, often tipping over 20 C.

Here in Kerikeri Bay of Islands, the magnificent Kauri rain forests are arguable at their best with light rain.  The canopy protects walkers from all but the heaviest rainfall.  You can enjoy a stroll along our wide deserted beaches with no other soul in sight.

Then there are other attractions – the Kawaiti  glow worm caves, and of course the Waitangi Treaty museum.  Our historic mission houses are just as intriguing no matter what the weather.  And lunch at Marsden Estate winery, Ake Ake or maybe overlooking the Bay at the Duke of Marlborough are a delight no matter the weather.

Curl up with a good movie – or a least someone who’s watched one!


The sunset from our Premium room.

We’ve reintroduced our Romantic Getaways this autumn, along with  our updated in room movie service on our brand new smart TVs. For only an extra $49 per booking, you can retreat to our glorious Premium Suite with a 2 course dinner served in-room.

moon_riverThen pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist! Select a classic movie from our ‘TV Direct’ movie service. Breakfast at Tiffany’s anyone? If you’re feeling just a bit more wicked, then you’ll be delighted to know our new NETFLIX service (all free of course) allows you to relax and lose yourself in an entire season of your favourite TV show.

Add the sound of autumnal rain falling gently on your roof – and you have a recipe for a deliciously decadent evening!

Please visit our ‘specials’ page for more information.

Kerikeri wine and food – punching well above its weight!

Aucklanders already seem to know about one of Kerikeri’s key delights – it’s a haven for epicureans!

For a small town, Kerikeri punches well over its weight with offerings of fine restaurants featuring our local organic produce, as well as a great selection of boutique wineries.  International guests are often overwhelmed with choice, and have to make some tough decisions on where to spend their evening dining (and maybe a few lunches).

The Pear Tree Restaurant is nestled amongst the historic buildings in the Stone Store basin. Why not combine a tour of the store and mission house, and a stroll to Rainbow Falls with a delightful lunch on the veranda, overlooking the calming waters of Kerikeri Inlet?

The Pear Tree Restaurant overlooks the serene and historic Stone Store basin.

Further up the hill, Food at Wharepuka offers fresh modern cuisine with a South East Asian twist; the Thai banquets on Friday night are delicious and excellent value.  Over at Ake Ake Vineyard, the restaurant overlooks the vineyards and the delicious seasonal menus are designed to match their beautiful wines. Their Chambourcin (a red varietal that grows perfectly in our sub-tropical climate) is a personal favourite, highly recommended to match with their venison if it’s on the menu.

Among our ethnic options, Kerikeri boasts Japanese, Thai, Indian and Italian; and are of a standard you’d expect to find in a cosmopolitan city and are highly recommended.

Finally, the ‘French chateaux’ inspired Marsden Estate winery (designed by the same architect as Moon Gate Villa) overlooks a water lily pond you could well imagine Monet himself inspired to paint beside, and is a personal favourite!  A sunny day, lunching al fresco with a glass or two of their Pinot Gris is as an absolute delight.

Local restaurants and winery stalls line the streets at the annual Kerikeri Street Party.

Local restaurants and winery stalls line the streets at the annual Kerikeri Street Party.

Kerikeri hosts two foodie favourites during its calendar year.  The annual and FREE Kerikeri Street Party is held each year after the Kerikeri Half Marathon event in November, and sees all the local wineries and restaurants break out the finest foods into street stalls lining Kerikeri Main Street.  And the Ocean and Orchard Festival held at the end of February features local chefs and restaurateurs holding demonstration and talks, amidst great local musical entertainment, competitions, and local food & wine stalls.

So there you have it; and we haven’t even talked about the small cafes that dot our main little shopping village!  So if good food and wine is on your selection criteria for where to stay in the Bay of Islands, then Kerikeri is the place for you!

Of Maoris and Missionaries

We love to recommend themes for guests along their interests for day trips, and one of our favourites is the Bay of Islands’ Missionary Trail.


Overlooking the Hokianga

December 2014 marks the 200 anniversary of Samuel Marsden establishing the first Christian missionary at Hohi (Oihi) Bay, about 30 minutes drive from Kerikeri. On December 21 2014 there is a formal commemoration at the Rangihoua Heritage Park and a Christmas Service on December 25th to mark the 200th anniversary of the first Christian service held by Samuel Marsden in New Zealand.  Except for the grandly placed Marsden Cross memorial, there is little evidence of the original settlement, but this is a fitting start to our trail!


Kerikeri Stone Store and Mission House

Eventually the missionaries moved further west to the Te Puna Inlet, and the famous Kerikeri Mission (still standing and New Zealand’s oldest building) was completed in the 1821.  This is the second stop on our tour. Take time to enjoy the guided tour of the mission house and the imposing Stone Store (New Zealand’s oldest stone building) next door.  There are tea rooms and the Pear Tree restaurant overlooking the basin across the road here, so a good spot for lunch!

Further west again is the Waimate North Mission station – again still standing, and about 15 minutes from Moon Gate. It formed part of the effort by missionaries to educate Maori in a European ‘farming model’ with poor results, however the grounds and mission house are in great condition and well worth a visit.


Horeke Mission House grounds

Ending our tour, we arrive at Horeke mission house, with its wonderful view across the east end of the Hokianga Harbour.  There are several places to visit here. including the mission itself, however the greatest delight is simply walking out the pier and letting the silence and tranquillity of the Hokianga soak in.

There are lots of other things to see, and we always customise a day of touring suggestion for our guests, however we sincerely recommend the trail if a sense of time and history is what you seek.


If we can assist with your Bay of Islands visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us!


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About Moon Gate Villa

We offer a unique, boutique accommodation experience just outside of the Kerikeri township, in the heart of the beautiful Bay of Islands, New Zealand.