Paihia is a regular stop for cruise ships visiting New Zealand—and it’s not difficult to see why. This charming port town and eponymous scenic harbor nestled in the Bay of Islands is the home base for many of the region’s tour operators. It’s also a great place to stay as you explore the Northland region. The Basics
During summer, small Paihia—one of New Zealand’s most popular resort towns—teems with sun-seeking tourists. From the harbor you can catch cruises out to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock, go parasailing above the bay, or kayak down the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. Divers can take wreck tours from Paihia to the Rainbow Warrior
at Matauri Bay and the HMNZS Canterbury
at Deep Water Cove.
There are a number of nature walks branching out from Paihia to the nearby Opua Forest and Horotutu Scenic Reserve. You can also walk to Waitangi, home to the grounds where New Zealand’s founding document was signed in 1840. For more history, catch a ferry across the harbor to Russell (Kororāreka), briefly the capital of the new colony of New Zealand. Or simply swim and sunbathe at Paihia Beach, an easy-to-access stretch along Paihia’s northern coastline. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Paihia Harbour is an ideal for outdoor adventurers, first-time Northland visitors, and cruise-ship passengers wanting to experience a spectacular corner of the Bay of Islands.
- The region’s subtropical climate means that the sun can be quite fierce, so make sure to pack sunscreen.
- Paihia has plenty of accommodation options, from 5-star hotels to cozy bed-and-breakfasts, as well as restaurants, cafés, and supermarkets.
Paihia is an easy 3.5-hour drive from Auckland, up State Highway 1 and State Highway 11. If you’re flying into Bay of Islands Airport, you can book an airport shuttle to Paihia or drive the roughly 18 miles (29 kilometers) to Paihia along State Highways 10 and 11. When to Get There
Paihia’s subtropical landscape means that there isn’t really a bad time to visit. Party-goers typically descend on the region around New Year’s Eve, and families tend to arrive soon after for Paihia’s Summer Festival, a family-friendly holiday festival in early January. Cruising and Sailing near Paihia
Plenty of Paihia’s cruise operators offer day trips out to Cape Brett to see the Hole in the Rock and spot local marine wildlife, including stingrays and, if you’re lucky, dolphins. There are also dive cruises available to other spots in the bay. Travelers looking for a more luxurious sailing experience might want to book a cruise on the classic tall ship R. Tucker Thompson