If you decide to stay on for a few days there are lots of great things to do in the Bay of Islands. These are some of our favorites....
The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it's paradise.
A three-hour drive or 35 minute flight north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and includes the boutique towns of Paihia, Russel and Kerikeri.
A choice of tour operators in the region offer excellent trips by sea or air to spectacular Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ on Piercy Island. A passenger ferry service runs between Paihia and Russell, while a vehicle ferry provides a link between Opua and Russell. On land, enjoy beautiful river and seaside walking tracks or encounter the mighty Kauri Tree in pristine subtropical rain-forest.
Embark on a voyage of discovery and enjoy the beauty of this area when you join a daily cruise, charter a yacht or hire a sea kayak. Once you’re around Tapeka Point - just north of Russell - you’ll enter a maritime adventure playground with an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more.
If you want to discover the coves and beaches of the Bay of Islands, Paihia is the perfect place to start.
Paihia is an excellent base from which to explore the Bay of Islands. It has an extensive choice of accommodation, delicious dining options and a good-sized town centre. From the wharf you can arrange a trip to the outer islands, hook into a fishing expedition or catch ferry to Russell.
Top local adventures include cruising to the ‘hole in the rock’ at the tip of Cape Brett, finding dolphins (and even swimming with them) and sea kayak tours. Paihia is also just down the road from the historic Treaty House at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation. Just west of Paihia is Haruru, where you’ll find an impressive waterfall and a boardwalk.
Historic buildings and a seaside setting full of cafes, restaurants and art galleries gives Russell a truly romantic quality.
Russell holds an important place in New Zealand's history, being the country's first sea port, its first European settlement and New Zealand's first capital in nearby Okiato. The town's streets retain their original layout and names from 1843, and many of its historic buildings can still be visited today. New Zealand's first licensed hotel, bar and restaurant, The Duke of Marlborough is located on the waterfront in the historic village of Russell. This charming town is the perfect base for exploring the Bay of Islands.
In Kerikeri you can dip into New Zealand history, browse art galleries and enjoy fresh local produce. This town is full of character, charm and flavour.
The Northland town of Kerikeri has a long, colourful history. The area was home ground for the fearsome Maori chief Hongi Hika, who terrorised many tribes throughout the North Island in the early 1800s. Yet he was kind to missionaries, allowing Samuel Marsden to establish New Zealand's second mission station here.
The Kerikeri Mission Station, also known as Kemp House, is New Zealand’s oldest standing European building. Built to house the Reverend John Butler in 1821, this elegant wooden home has the protection of the Historic Places Trust.
Nearby is the Stone Store, which dates back to 1832 and is New Zealand's oldest stone building. Designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs and built by an ex-convict stonemason from New South Wales, the store was meant to house large quantities of wheat from the mission farm at Te Waimate. When the wheat failed, the building was used as a kauri gum trading store.