This tranquil town on the Kaipara River sits at the south of the southern hemisphere's largest harbour, and is the ideal place to kick back and just enjoy the beautiful surroundings and friendly welcome. Kauri milling was an important industry in Helensville's early days, and many of the town's buildings date from this era.

The hot springs at Parakai, 3km to the north, are a popular attraction, the natural geothermal waters considered both healing and revitalising. The Pakarai Aerodrome offers tandem skydiving over this dramatic landscape, but if you want to keep your feet nearer the ground, try some horse trekking over the fields, or a leisurely cruise along the winding Kaipara River.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to feed you up, and those with a souvenir or antiques fetish will be glad to find lots of emporia offering one-of-a-kind artifacts. Take a tour around the intriguing Pioneer Museum and step back in time in the Helensville Courthouse, Edwardian Hedley House, the original Helensville Primary School and Hector Nicholls Barn, which exhibits old milling, fishing and farming equipment.