Bay of Islands Travel Guide

  • Bay of Islands
    by STRATOS79
  • Bay of Islands
    by STRATOS79
  • A remote beach in the Bay of Islands
    A remote beach in the Bay of Islands
    by Wojtek_R

Bay of Islands Highlights

  • Pro
    Audrey118 profile photo

    Audrey118 says…

     Just sit back and enjoy the view, the food and the great hospitality at Cliffedge 

  • Con
    iandsmith profile photo

    iandsmith says…

     Windy roads 

  • In a nutshell
    worldkiwi profile photo

    worldkiwi says…

     Great place for a holiday! 

Bay of Islands Things to Do

  • Waitangi Treaty Grounds

    In 1840, William Hobson, representing the British crown, signed a treaty with the local Maori tribes. The treaty formed the basis of relations between these two main groups, which holds to this day. The Treaty Grounds are dedicated to Maori culture, with exhibits, the Treaty House (now a museum), a traditional Maori house, and an oversized war...

  • Russell

    Once called the "Hellhole of the South Pacific," Russell was long known as a town of ill repute. This was a favorite port of call sailors. Today, it's a quaint old resort town on the bay. It can be reached by boat

  • Cruise the Islands

    You must take a boat tour out to the islands. This is one of New Zealand's most scenic places. If you have time, you make get to visit a few of the places along the way, like Russell or Urukupakupa Island. Another famous sight is the celebrated Hole in the Rock, near the far end of the Bay. And, with some luck, you may get to see some dolphins or...

  • Cape Brett Hole-in-the-Rock Cruise

    When visiting the Bay of Islands area we had to make at least one cruise to see at least a couple of the 144 islands. We decided to make the "Cape Brett Hole-in-the-Rock Cruise" with Fullers, leaving in the morning from Paihia for a halfday cruise. Fullers vessel is a nice catamaran, but if you want to sit outside on the deck be sure to board...

  • Cruising the Bay of Islands

    We loved the part of our New Zealand cruise that took us to The Bay of Islands and Russell. We went through the Hole in the Rock and past many beautiful green islands, then getting some free time to walk around lovely Russell---we even found a somewhat Naturist beach nearby.

  • Russell Coast Road

    When driving south from Russell, to Whangarei, a great alternative route is the Russell coast road which is sealed for the entire journey. The road stays close to the coastline of the eastern Bay of Islands with numerous beautiful views as one passes through small beachside settlements and bays. One leaves the Bay of Islands at Elliot Bay, a...

  • Stone Store, Mission House: Kerikeri...

    Although inland, 25 km from Paihia, Kerikeri has big historic significance for the Bay of Islands. For a centre, however, it is still a very laid-back and quiet place, nestled between orchards of citrus fruit, kiwi, melons, peppers etc.Like Paihia, Kerikeri started as a mission station, in 1819. The reverend, John Butler, NZ's first ordained...

  • Have a Rest at Hundertwasser's Toilets...

    Already long before he designed the famous public toilets in Kawakawa, a little town south of Paihia on the way to Whangarei, you could find Friedensreich Hundertwasser's art in the area. I remember prints and posters in galleries and tourist shops in Russell.Surely in New Zealand Hundertwasser has never reached the fame he had achieved in Europe...

  • Relax or Walk and Climb on Russell's...

    Long Beach is much more suitable for swimming than Russell's town beach. It is on the other side of the peninsula. From the end of The Strand, Kent, Church or Beresford Street towards Flagstaff Hill you turn right into Long Beach Road which leads directly down to the beach.It is a long stretch of white sand.At low tide you can go for a very nice...

  • Enjoy Russell's Charm

    As Hone Heke and his Maori warriors burnt down all houses except the churches and mission buildings in 1845, there are not many buildings of the early days left. You will immediately spot the serene white Christ Church. It dates back to 1836 and is the oldest surviving church in New Zealand. The very special thing about is the fact that it was not...

  • Russell: Enjoy View from Hone Heke's...

    You reach Flagstaff Hill either by driving up there to the carpark and walk some metres to the top, or you walk up the steep hill from the end of The Strand, Russell's waterfront street.The flagpole sitting on top of the hill - formerly Maiki Hill, now Flagstaff Hill Reserve - has survived for a very long time, compared to the short survival rates...

  • Russell: A Wonderful Place of Peace and...

    Although Russell is linked to the mainland it feels like an island, just across the bay, with the main connections from Paihia and Opua by passenger and vehicle ferry. The feeling reflects this isolation. The town is so peaceful, picturesque, even romantic, with all those nice colonial buildings along the waterfront. Just marvellous. The perfect...

  • Waitangi: Explore Treaty Grounds or Join...

    Some New Zealanders had been complaining on a regular base that they had to pay an entry fee to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. They considered it - somehow correctly - as a kind of open air museum and the birthplace of the nation, and that therefore it should be free like other museums. This bid was successful eventually, and so this admission has...

  • Paihia: Not Nice but a Good Base for the...

    If I lived in the Bay of Islands I would surely not live in Paihia because at times it is rather crowded with tourists who explore the region. I could imagine to live on one of the many hills of Opua, the next settlement, as our friends do. A house on a hilltop with a view over the islands, peninsulas and waters that define the Bay of Islands. It...

  • Waitangi: Visit the Birthplace of the...

    The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840 by the British Government and Maori. It marks the birth of the nation we know now. The funny thing about it is that the British Government had not intended to add New Zealand to its empire. It was struggling with the administration of already too many colonies, and desillusioned by the revolt of...


Bay of Islands Hotels

Bay of Islands Restaurants

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Mmm, smells nice too

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 3, 2007

    Waterfront Cafe, how hard is that to remember?
    It's easy to find, just a few doors down on your right as you alight from the ferry. It was recommended to us by a local but, being our cynical selves, we thought they might be an aunt or daughter or something.
    Still, we went anyway and it was very bohemian, an atmosphere we like, and the coffee was good and served attractively with a silver fern motif on the foam, albeit coloured brown.
    It's a lovely place to chill out and I had the all-day breakfast since I was feeling a tad peckish after the walk. Nothing special, just good honest fare and a nice atmosphere.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Food and Dining
    • Family Travel

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Bay of Islands Transportation

  • Passenger ferry Paihia - Russell

    Paihia and Russell are the main towns in the Bay of Islands area. They are connected by road (a long and scenic but dangerous drive), a car ferry between Opua (6 km south of Paihia) and Okiato (12 km south of Russell).Most visitors will use the passenger ferry across the bay between the two cities. There are three companies operating these ferries...

  • Ferry from Paihia to Russell

    With holidaymakers staying in Pahia or in Russell and wanting to make daytrips to either destination several ferry services started up. Some are high speed and others are slower but take about 15 minutes maximum. The ferries run very regularly from both locations. These ferries are for foot traffic only - no cars. If you want to drive between the...

  • Car Ferry from Opua

    Most people travel to the Bay of Islands by car. To get to Russell the best way is to drive to Opua and take the car ferry across. It costs about $18 return for a car and driver. The ferries are run by Fullers and run more frequently during peak times. You might have to wait but usually no longer than about 30 minutes depending on traffic.Opua is...


Bay of Islands Shopping

  • Living Nature Products Where They Come...

    You can purchase Living Nature products in many shops in New Zealand, especially the Life Pharmacies, but if you are in Kerikeri you could use your visit for a purchase at the factory retail store - so right where those beauty products come from.If you are not that far north but want to buy Living Nature products, go to the website. At the bottom...

  • Hundertwasser looking shop

    The shop front was designed by famous Austrian architect who spent his last 20 years of his life in NZ. Otherwise the store sells NZ made souveniers.

  • Sunday market in Paihia

    i love the wooden stuff much cheaper than shops and nicer quality. lots of choice as well.


Bay of Islands Local Customs

  • kiwigal_1's Profile Photo
    Waitangi Bridge 2 more images

    by kiwigal_1 Written Jan 24, 2006

    Although I noticed this sign on the bridge at Waitangi I also was witness to a bunch of kids completely ignoring the sign and jumping anyway!

    Bridge jumping is quite a popular activity in NZ and local kids get to know the best bridges to jump off. It can be highly dangerous though if you cannot see what is lying underneath the water or the depth of the water.

    In Russell I also noticed some kids jumping of the pier which made more sense to me as this at least is deep (because of the ferries).

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Adventure Travel

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Bay of Islands Off The Beaten Path

  • Kawakawa - remarkable toilets

    The worlds most remarkable public toilets can be found in Kawakawa. A little town situated about 15 km's from Paihia.They are designed by Friedrich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist who lived in Kawakawa, in 1999 and nowadays a 'must see' for Hundertwasser fans (more information about Hundertwasser:

  • Wairere Boulders - basalt rocks and...

    The Wairere Boulders are situated near Horeke, a small village along the Hokianga Harbour (with the oldest post office of New Zealand). The village is accessible from both Highway 1 and Highway 12 between Opononi and Kaikohe. After our lunch in the local pub of Horeke we did take the Horeke (gravel) Road and after a couple of km's we found the car...

  • Mangonui - Heritage Village

    Mangonui is situated on Highway 10 at Doubtless Bay, north of the Bay of Islands.We were completely surprised by this very pleasant cute village with a lot of (for New Zealand) old wooden buildings. The best way to explore this historic village was to walk along the Heritage Trail, which did lead us along more than 20 buildings, even to a hill with...


Bay of Islands Sports & Outdoors

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Do me for a fish (kingfish) 4 more images

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 5, 2007

    One of the things you can actually do right at Paihia is fish. Steve Butler is one of those legend people and I was recommended to him. I'm so glad. It was the absolute last day of our stay before the weather window opened up and we could get outside in the boat but it was a hoot of a day. Kingfish, John Dory, schnapper and Bastard Red Cod (that's their name) all came on board, along with one barracouta that was duly despatched.
    It's a 36ft purpose built boat that Steve designed himself and he will only take four so as to avoid tangles (anthough we still managed a couple). You also get a cup of tea and biscuits which I was grateful for after pulling in a few big ones.
    The cost when I went out was $210 per person.
    A fabulous day out with a professsional man at the helm. If you're into fishing, do it.

    Equipment: All equipment is supplied and it's the best gear I've ever had on a charter. Overhead reels are what he uses (someone finally taught me how to use one) and you really need them when you latch on to a big kingfish because you'll be hanging on with two hands and still losing line.

    Related to:
    • Fishing
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Beaches

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Bay of Islands Favorites

  • Hello fellow tree huggers

    We allocated one day as a let's-go-look-at-kauri-trees day. To that end we commenced at Manginangina, a small area set on a back road heading south out of Kaeo (about 30ks north of Bayof Islands).The road winds through pleasant forest scenery until you reach the reserve and then it's only a short board walk to reach an impressive stand of kauri....

  • A quality experience

    In addition to the previous there's a raft of things to see. They have an entire saw mill (pic 1),amazing historical scenes in period costumes (pic 2), an extensive collection of historic photos that I found rivetting (pic 3), quality furniture pieces made from kauri and other native species (pic 4) and a huge log with the ring lines explained (pic...

  • The Kauri experience

    "Allow two hours to see the museum." The words resonated in my ears; surely an hour would cover a museum about a tree.How wrong was I. We walked in at 3.00pm and, when closing time arrived, we were nearly being ushered out the door and we still wanted to see more.Having visited many a museum in my time I have to say this is one of the finest I have...


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