As its name indicates, the Bay of Islands is a vast inlet studded with islands – lots of islands – 144 to be exact! The region north of Auckland is blessed with subtropical temperatures and is often referred to as ‘The Winterless North’, although, to be fair, it can get cold and rainy sometimes! It’s a paradise for anyone who loves beaches, marine wildlife and water activities – whether it’s swimming with dolphins, getting beneath the water’s surface for a scuba dive, or above on a kayaking, sailing, or even parasailing adventure. The Bay of Islands is truly spectacular and filled with countless highlights and hidden gems some of which we’ll show you on our three-day Bay of Islands tour and our Epic Tour of New Zealand which also give you the option of heading up to Cape Reinga – the very northern tip of New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet.
The largest township in the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a hub of adventure activities and with the historic town of Russell (once New Zealand’s first capital) on the opposite shore, and Waitangi immediately to the north, there’s a great deal of history and Māori culture to explore here, too. It’s such a gorgeous holiday hot-spot that we have a premium penthouse backpackers lodge located in central Paihia – just across the road from the waterfront and therefore blessed with great views over Paihia Beach and the bay beyond. All the water adventures mostly leave from the wharf just across the road from our accommodation, making seeing the best of the Bay of Islands super easy.
Things to do
Take a kayak onto the waters, or opt for the ever-popular Hole in the Rock cruise where you’re likely to see some marine mammals at play. Experienced divers can opt to take a look around some impressive wrecks, while those who have never been on a dive will find the warm waters around here a great place to learn. During summer months, you can cast away your cares and cast off on a half-day sail around the bay on the tall ship, R. Tucker Thomson, or enjoy a yacht cruise.
WAITANGI – BIRTHPLACE OF A NATION
Just across the bridge from Paihia is a place of great significance to New Zealanders and our history. Waitangi is where in 1840 representatives of the English Crown and Māori tribal leaders signed a treaty which marked the beginning of Aotearoa/New Zealand as a nation. The Waitangi Museum is a stand-out experience with wonderful taonga (treasures) on display, and regular Māori cultural performances. We recommend also taking a walking tour of the grounds which has impressive views over the Bay of Islands and is where you’ll get admire the Maori wharerūnanga (meeting house), waka taua (war canoe) and the naval flag pole marking where the Treaty was signed. The 35m-long waka housed at Waitangi is launched annually on Waitangi Day (6 February) and can carry up to 120 warriors.
Tours including Paihia/Bay of Islands
Epic NZ Tour
Discover more of NZ than most New Zealanders, as you thoroughly explore the best of both the North and South Islands.View tour
Bay of Islands Winterless North Tour
Travel north of Auckland to discover highlights & hidden gems of the northernmost NZ region that’s rich in Māori history & natural wonders.View tour
DISCOVER THE BAY OF ISLANDS
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