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Things to do in Bay of Islands

Things to do in  Bay of Islands

Welcome to Bay of Islands

Tucked away toward the top of New Zealand’s beautiful North Island, the Bay of Islands are the gateway to some of the country’s most impressive coastal terrain. At the end of the 141-mile (227-kilometer) drive north from Auckland to Paihia, the islands loom into view, giving visitors their first glimpse of the spectacular scenery that awaits. The farther north you go, the prettier the vistas become. A full experience involves delving deep into the landscape, and tours can help you do just that, whether you want to charge into a rainforest, take to the sea in a boat or kayak, or soar above the islands on a parasail flight. Trekking through the Puketi Rainforest—home to a diverse range of native plant and animal life—is even better with a guide, who can point out the different species of flora and fauna. Take a scenic flight over rugged Cape Reinga, or watch the waves for dolphins on a sightseeing boat cruise. If your time is limited, a private Bay of Islands Tour can help you hit the region's highlights, combining activities such as wine tasting with sites like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where British colonists and Maori chiefs signed the Waitangi Treaty in 1840.

Top 10 attractions in Bay of Islands

#1

Paihia

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The resort town of Paihia services the villages and islands of the Bay of Islands. Boasting the area’s best accommodation and restaurants, Paihia Harbour is the ideal place to base yourself while you explore this lovely part of New Zealand. Hire a kayak to paddle out to the islands, follow the rivers winding in from the bay, or take a walk through kauri forest to lookouts over the water. To walk from Paihia to neighboring Waitangi is a pleasant 40 minutes one way.More
#2

Cape Brett and Hole in the Rock

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Wild and lonely Cape Brett is a remote location on the scenic back road leading along the coast from Russell. Along the route is the traditional Maori village of Rawhiti, the starting point for the rugged 7.5-hour trek to Cape Brett. On reaching the cape, hikers are rewarded with shelter for the night in the Cape Brett Hut. For non-hikers, Cape Brett is a popular day cruise destination from Paihia or Russell. The cape is famous for its ‘Hole in the Rock’ on neighboring Motukokako Island, a natural archway formed by ceaselessly pounding seas over the centuries. As well as spotting dolphins, penguins and other wildlife along the way, the cruise passes a lovely seaside landscape of sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, and the lonely lighthouse on the tip of Cape Brett.More
#3

Cape Reinga

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The northern end of Ninety Mile Beach is lit by the flashing beacon of Cape Reinga lighthouse. Lighting the point where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, the remote lighthouse has an atmospheric end-of-the-world feeling, the ideal spot for long walks on the beach. On the very tip of the cape is the 800 year-old pohutukawa tree, whose roots hide the entrance to the Maori Underworld, where the souls of the dead return. It’s a particularly spiritual place for the Maori, so eating and drinking here is best avoided. Walks lead from here to surrounding bays and capes, and the area’s signature dunes.More
#4

Waitangi

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As the site of a significant event in the country’s history, the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, the northern village of Waitangi is an unassuming cornerstone of modern New Zealand society. Visitors can learn about Aotearoa’s social and political past while exploring the Treaty Grounds and surrounding forest and beaches.More
#5

Haruru Falls

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What the Haruru Falls lack in height, they more than make up for in beauty, especially when floodlit at night. The falls are wide but relatively low at 5 meters (16.5 feet), which makes for particularly good swimming and kayaking at the base. The falls are surrounded by holiday parks and recreation areas, making the most of the lovely riverside setting.More
#6

Te Paki

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Located on the Aupouri Peninsula, Te Paki is the northernmost region in New Zealand and hosts one of the nation’s most diverse ecosystems. It’s home to rare–and endangered–flora and fauna, such as the giant flax snail and Bartlett’s rata tree.More
#7

Stone Store

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The Kerikeri Stone Store is the oldest stone building in New Zealand and part of Kerikeri’s historic Mission Station. Built in 1832, the Stone Store has been a trading post, a library, a barracks, and more. Today you can explore the store and hear the stories of the chiefs, settlers, and missionaries who passed through the station.More
#8

Whangarei Falls

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Spilling 85 feet over a wide cliff face, Whangarei Falls is often referred to as the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand. This three-ribboned, curtain waterfall is the perfect place for a refreshing swim on a hot summer day in the Northland and serves as a romantic spot for poolside picnics or rest any time of the year. More than just an enjoyable lunch spot, however, Whangarei is incredibly popular for its convenient location and easy access; two viewing platforms are a short walk from a large, paved parking lot, and they provide a stable spot for photographing and viewing the iconic Northland cascade. Once you've finished snapping photos or swimming in the clear, cool waters, take a stroll on one of the wooded trails that fan their way out from the falls. For an easy 30-minute stroll, the Whangarei Falls Loop crosses the river just above the waterfall, while the Sands Road Loop provides a three-hour journey along the Hatea River Walkway.More
#9

Bay of Islands Cruise Port (Waitangi Wharf)

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The Bay of Islands is a corner of the world that was meant to be explored by boat. This was the first part of the North Island to be settled by Europeans, and you can see from the islands and turquoise coves why they were immediately taken with this shoreline. All cruise ships arriving in the Bay of Islands will dock near Paihia at the Waitangi Wharf. To reach the town of Paihia, which is 1.3 miles away, you can either enjoy a 20-minute walk or a three-minute shuttle ride to the visitor’s centre. Visitors to the Bay of Islands have a smorgasbord of options to choose from which range from water sports, to history, to adventure. To explore the harbor and the surrounding islands and get a glimpse of the local marine life, hop aboard a harbor cruise to Cape Brett or Hole in the Rock. Depending upon the length of the cruise, you might have the chance to stop at empty beaches or ply the waters for dolphins.More
#10

Puketi Forest (Puketi Kauri Forest)

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For as much attention as the Bay of Islands receives for its empty beaches and coves, one of the best sights near the Bay of Islands has nothing to do with the water. Rather, the Puketi rainforest is set inland from the coast in some of the best-preserved wilderness in the Northland. Set only a short drive from the Bay of Islands, this lush expanse of native foliage stretches over 37,000 acres of terrain. Here, kauri trees over 120 feet in height keep a watchful eye over the forest, and parts of the land have remained completely untouched since the arrival of the island’s first humans. In addition to the kauri—native hardwoods which were prized by Maori and exploited by European shipbuilders—there are over 370 different species of plants which thrive in the Puketi rainforest. Given the unique climate of the Northland and its geographical obscurity, a few of these plants are endemic to New Zealand and exist nowhere else in the world.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in the Bay of Islands

How to Spend 2 Days in the Bay of Islands

How to Spend 3 Days in the Bay of Islands

How to Spend 3 Days in the Bay of Islands

Top activities in Bay of Islands

The Cream Trip - Day in the Bay

The Cream Trip - Day in the Bay

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139
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US$100.52
Island Hopper Day Cruise

Island Hopper Day Cruise

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US$110.58
Phantom Sailing Bay of Islands

Phantom Sailing Bay of Islands

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US$96.80

Recent reviews from experiences in Bay of Islands

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Exceptional experience
johnnylovedit, Dec 2018
Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch
I loved my day aboard, this must be the best way to see the Bay of Islands.
star-5
Bay of Islands is just beautiful...
PATRICIA S, Mar 2018
Full-Day Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Small-Group Tour
Bay of Islands is just beautiful, the highlight being Kawiti Cave to see the glow worms.
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Matt was great at showing us...
danica-78, Aug 2017
Full-Day Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Small-Group Tour
Matt was great at showing us everything you would want to see in the bay of islands.
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This is definitely the way to see...
Curtis H, Dec 2015
Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour
This is definitely the way to see the Bay of Islands!
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It was an awesome day. Warm sunny...
Stephen M. E, Feb 2016
Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch
Highly recommend to anyone wanting to see the Bay of Islands up close and personal.
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Thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip...
kim p, Jan 2016
Cape Reinga Half-Day Tour Including Scenic Flight
Would recommend this as a must for anybody wishing to see the wonderful landscape in its entirity of the Bay of Islands.
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There's no better way to see Bay of...
Kenneth J P, Mar 2016
Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour
There's no better way to see Bay of Islands than by helicopter and landing on the Hole in the Rock was a great thrill.
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Great trip, despite the weather...
Sally R, Apr 2013
The Cream Trip - Day in the Bay
Great trip, despite the weather, which prevented us from swimming with the dolphins although we did get to see them.
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Excellent small bus tour of Russell
Apdavissd, Jan 2020
Russell Small-Group Sightseeing Guided Tour
much more to see on bus.
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Wonderful way to spend a day
Coastal06641212507, Dec 2019
Scenic Escape Private Tour
He was able to get us to all the points of interest before the ships tour buses got there or as they were leaving which made it easy for us to see things and take photos without crowds.
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The Bay of Islands is a beautiful...
brunnertx, Mar 2018
Dolphin Cruise to the Hole in the Rock with Island Stopover - Afternoon Cruise
The Bay of Islands is a beautiful area and an excursion like this one was worth doing to see the area.
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Absolutely recommend this tour! The...
Katherine A, Oct 2016
Half-Day Bay of Islands Discovery Tour from Paihia
The tour weaves through the Bay of Islands with the opportunity to see dolphins, and we even got a glimpse of a whale!
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We enjoyed a comfortable catamaran...
Craig E, Jan 2017
Dolphin Cruise to the Hole in the Rock with Island Stopover - Afternoon Cruise
On our way to the rock and on our way back to Paihia we were fortunate to see quite a few dolphins, which was amazing.
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Fascinating Glow Worms
nicolethompson, Jan 2020
Full-Day Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Small-Group Tour
We also enjoyed our stops at the chocolate factory, wooden workshop, Kaori forest and the Haruru Falls.
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Best way to see the Bay of Islands...
Samantha H, Mar 2017
Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch
Best way to see the Bay of Islands!
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WOW! What a great way to see the Bay...
DAZ, Jan 2018
Full-Day Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Small-Group Tour
The tour showed us the top sights to see - We loved the stop at the chocolate factory, the scenery, the history, and the warm and friendly nature of our guide.
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What a ride! Great fun from start to...
Bandit, Oct 2011
Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour
It was amazing being able to see the Bay of Islands from the air and being able to grasp just how large the area is.
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Matt was our guide for the day and...
Nicole D, Jan 2018
Full-Day Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Small-Group Tour
The glow worm caves were wonderful to see as was the rain forest area.
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What an excellent day! We helped put...
Roy S, Apr 2013
Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch
We climbed the hill when the ship anchored and were able to see across the Bay of Islands.

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